Winter has hit the QC a lot faster than some of us have hoped! There was seemingly no in-between when one week in October we were in the 80’s and the next 40’s and below.
The “snowy months” (since Fall and early Spring seem to exist no longer) can sometimes be hard to navigate for all types of families, and people of all abilities. And while there is adaptive gear, sleds, and other such wintery accessories, they can run hundreds of dollars and set families way back. So, we’ve tried to compile a list of tips. items, and activities that can make these cold months safe, fun, and affordable for everyone!
First and foremost, we’ve got to protect ourselves from the elements. These cold temperatures can be miserable sometimes, and if last year’s low of -60° is anything to go by we definitely need to prepare.
Adaptive clothing can still be tricky for all to buy, but it is becoming more readily available. More and more mainstream stores, like Target, are stocking their shelves and online inventory with adaptive coats, warm pajamas, sweatpants and shirts, and more! While a little pricier Tommy Hilfiger also has a line of winter adaptive clothing that has amazing reviews. Also, every once and a while outlet stores like Marshals, Ross, and Gordmans will get overstock of adaptive clothing from other bigger name stores for cheaper and may be worth checking out.
When and if you can, try to block out time for the whole family to go to the store so you can try on the clothes. Going out may not be an option though, and that’s okay! There are plenty of places online as we’ve pointed out as well, just be sure to look at the reviews and size charts for good ideas of what you’re getting.
While comfort and accessibility is left up to each individual various outlets online have tips for what to look for in winter gear. For instance with out-ware it may be better to get a coat with a hood on it so that you can slip it off and on to hear better at certain times, rather than having to deal with a hit. For gloves get ones that will keep you warm, but maybe have thinner fingers so that you can still touch and feel surfaces. And for footwear treads are everything so you limit the possibility of slipping!
SAFETY & HEATING
Cold months can be hard on people, pets, vehicles, and your house! We have some tips to help with all these things as well.
Winterizing your pipes, checking smoke alarms and CO2 detectors are all important things to do before the cold really sets in. If you’re looking to cut down on costs of heating simple tricks like a cold-air blocker/winter-barrier on your door and windows can help, as well as possibly covering your windows with an insulation kit!
Be careful with heaters or fireplaces in your house. Only run them for short periods of time to bring up the heat in necessary situations. NEVER leave them running unsupervised or all night.
If you have wheelchair give it the same kind of care and attention you should give your car. Have an emergency kit ready in case the worst happens, with possible items like pocket heat packs, water, energy bars, and portable charger for your phone. You may want to look in to getting an “All Weather” poncho as well on top of your normal winter gear!
If you have a service or therapy dog/animals, their safety from the winter elements is not to be overlooked as well! Many stores carry winter gear for pets as well. Sweaters, boots, vests, and anything else your pet may need is available at top stores like Petsmart, Petco, Walmart, Target, and MANY online markets like CHEWEY.
Salt is one hazard to be aware of! While it helps us humans keep from slipping on ice, it can be extremely harmful to the sensitive pads dogs have. Using something like Musher’s Secret Paw Protection Wax is a near necessity each time you go outside. This type of wax forms a protective, breathable, and dense barrier from the most extreme weather conditions, eliminating the need for boots.
The Quad Cities is brimming with lots of activities to do during the winter months. We ourselves at Hand in Hand have activities planned through March to keep us all going, like our Chili Cook-Off in January, Integrated Bowling, a Quad City Storm game January 11, and so much more!
Many theatres in the area, such as Circa 21 and Richmond Hill, have adaptive and audio description options for their holiday shows so that they can be enjoyed by everyone. And as always Putnam has their Sensory Friendly Films, including a showing of the holiday favorite The Polar Express on Sunday, December 8th at 4:30 PM!
Families should also feel free to go outside and play in the snow! It may seem scary, but the snow can offer some fun and memorable play opportunities for everyone! Last winter a story circulated of a father in Ohio building a full igloo for his children, all of which have various disabilities. If you can, feel free to go outside and enjoy the snow. Build a funny snowman, or an igloo, or have a snowball battle! The possibilities can be as endless and unique as each individual snowflake.
If the outdoor activities aren’t your style, there is also nothing wrong with staying in! Cozying up together with a warm mug of hot chocolate or cider and watching some family favorite holiday films or read a book together! The choices are just as endless.
The winter can seem scary, and at points never ending. But that doesn’t mean it has to be either of those things, and least of all- dull! There is a lot to do in the QC, even in your own backyard to keep the winter time fun and enjoyable for everyone in your home, people and pets alike!