Minnesota winter is in full swing! Our house is surrounded by icicles, snow and ice! While we outsource the job to plow the driveway, both my husband and I are full-time wheelchair users and for the first winter as home owners, we were pretty stuck. As winter takes over in Minnesota, the ground is covered in chunky hidden ice patches under a hefty layer of snow. Until I got my Stretto power chair, we were completely at the mercy of whenever the snowplows showed up. We had to find a way to fix this since our dogs need to go out during the winter. We also need a path around our patio so we can do other tasks, like burning our cardboard boxes. So, here are a few tips and tricks while using a wheelchair in snow and ice.
Choose Your Snow Shovel Wisely
First, it’s important to have a solid snow shovel! Something sturdy and wide enough to move about a foot worth of snow at a time. That’s been the size most manageable for us, but it’s important to get one that fits the user. Even if it’s a bit smaller, the key is to be able to keep the snow shovel in front of you so that you can use your power chair to push the snow out of the way by using the momentum of the chair and utilize the leverage of seat elevation. When snow layers upon itself, it’s a mix of fluffy snow with frozen layers in between. Having a snow shovel will allow you to break apart the frozen layers and move them out of your path. These are generally inexpensive, and available at stores like Target and Walmart.
Other Tools to Use with a Wheelchair in Snow and Ice
We recently upgraded to a snow shovel that has a motor and shoots the snow out to the side. While this tool certainly rocks, we still needed our regular snow shovel to break apart the bits of ice that it wasn’t able to crush. With a combination of the two, we were able to clear the snow from the path, break up the ice, and create a pathway to the firepit. As long as the ice doesn’t cover the entire path, we found that I can drive my Stretto power wheelchair with iLevel® over the ice and snow to keep moving forward.
Invest in a Leaf Blower for Clearing the Snow
Lastly, an additional tool that proved pretty useful is a leaf blower! Once the snow and ice have been broken up, or if the snow is fresh enough, the leaf blower can move it out of the path fairly efficiently. Sometimes, I found myself needing to adjust the angle of the leaf blower and to angle it from below the ice to create enough force to break the ice up and move it out of the way. Fortunately, having a Quantum power wheelchair allows you to approach stubborn snow and ice spots with enough force to create a much better path, especially with additional leverage gained by iLevel!
About Jill Moore White: Jill is an inclusive play specialist, bringing accessible playgrounds to local communities. She volunteers with disability organizations, including the Disability EmpowHER Network. Jill enjoys music, sketching and playing video games. Click here to learn more about Jill.