Winter Weather Tips

Tags: Adult, Orientation and Mobility

Winter Weather Tips for Travel

Winter is here and there may be snow or ice on the ground. While it can be a beautiful time of year, it is also hazardous for people with low vision. You need to plan ahead and make alternative plans.

Preparation is key

Listen to weather forecasts in advance so you can plan whether to walk, take the bus, use paratransit, or Uber/carpool wherever you need to go.

You may not need a paratransit or human/sighted guide user in better weather, but in winter weather, this extra assistance may be welcome.

Everything takes more time in the winter

Buses and paratransit may be late in bad weather. Calling for Uber/Lyft or a carpool may require a different pick-up spot because parking could be blocked in snowy weather.

It will even take longer to walk because you will need to use your cane more carefully to explore the path ahead of you.

Walking outside

It’s hard to walk on snow and ice, and difficult to figure out where it is so you can avoid it. You may want to invest in some cleats, like Yaktrax, that slip on over your shoes/boots to provide more traction. Check out some options here.

You may want to plan an alternate walking route, choosing one that you know is likely to get more sunlight or have the sidewalks cleared, for example, near a business.

Try cutting a hole into your dominant cane hand mitten so it is easier to grip the cane inside the mitten.

Use constant contact and exploratory sweeping of the cane to find landmarks or a hard-packed path under snow cover. You can poke at snow mounds and use three- point touch, tapping twice in an arc on the ground, and then raising the cane up on the last tap to explore snow banks in search of landmarks.

You may want to experiment with different cane tips. Many people find hook roller ball tips and hook roller (marshmallow) tips the best for snow cover, and metal and pencil tips helpful for probing for icy surfaces.

Keep your ears as uncovered as possible, because sounds (like traffic) will already be distorted by snowfall, and you don’t want to distort your hearing even more with earmuffs or a heavy hat.

Wear warm clothing, bright colors, slip-resistant boots, a visor, and glare shields in snowy conditions if needed.

Contact VisionCorps for Assistance

Remember to contact a VisionCorps Orientation and Mobility (O&M) specialist for advice and training for winter weather. You can do this in advance of bad weather by contacting us at 717-205-4141.