Navigating the snow and ice of a Wisconsin winter takes extra care for people with visual impairment. These tips will give you the confidence to get outside and enjoy our state’s winter wonderland.
1. Walk like a penguin. Take short, slow, deliberate steps, turning your feet slightly outward. Keep your hands out of your pockets to assist with balance or in case of a fall.
2. Exercise caution when getting in or out of a vehicle. Swing both of your feet out of the vehicle, place them securely on the ground, hold a stable part of the vehicle, then shift your weight onto your feet and stand up.
3. Feel for slippery floors when you enter buildings. If the floor is wet, walk near a wall using your hand against the wall to keep steady, and try to walk on a mat or carpet if available.
4. Avoid carrying items if possible so your hands are free to navigate or catch a fall.
5. Appropriate lighting can be an important part of safety. Use sunglass filters to help with glare. Wear a head lamp in darker conditions to spot ice or other obstacles.
6. Wear footwear with good traction and with higher ankle support for stability.
7. Use a handrail when possible, especially when you walk up or down steps.
8. If you’re walking with a sighted person, work with them to avoid icy spots that may be hard to detect with a cane.
9. Take extra time when entering or leaving buildings, giving your eyes time to adjust to changing light conditions.
10. Use winter safety equipment when walking in snowy or icy conditions. Thin thermal gloves will keep you agile and warm while navigating with a cane. Different cane tips will help you manage snow and icy conditions. And Yaktrax© cleats that slip over the bottom of shoes or boots can greatly improve traction.