A couple inches of snow arrived on my college campus this morning. Since learning to use a blindness cane, I have absolutely hated the snow, and six inches of snow once kept me trapped in my dorm room for two days because I had no idea how to navigate or stay warm while using a metal pole to guide me around. Here are some tips I have gathered on staying warm while using a blindness cane.
The blindness cane
When there is snow outside, I use my marshmallow tip cane like I do everyday; however, a few of my friends have found great success with using a snow cane, which reminds me of the shape of a hockey stick. Because I’m staying on pavement, I don’t have much of a need for a special snow cane, instead I just need the feedback from my normal cane.
I walk slowly using my blindness cane in the snow, using a wider range of motion than I normally do, and I always have a human guide with me even if conditions do not appear to be icy, like this morning. When walking in the snow, my cane leaves a trail in the shape of the letter S, which some people mistake for snake tracks.
Also, no matter what, do NOT let anyone try and lick your cane. Sounds strange, but I had someone ask me that while I was walking this morning, and I had no idea how to respond other than confusion.
Not fingerless gloves, fingerless glove. I wear a normal winter glove on one hand and a fingerless one on the other. I got a couple packages of fingerless gloves at Target for about $3 each and they have been amazing. The material keeps my palm warm, but I can still easily feel the feedback from my cane and detect ice and other hazards. My fingers do go numb if I am outside for long periods of time, but I found this solution great for navigating to class.
My neck is very sensitive to cold, and while my coat does a great job at covering a lot of my neck, it doesn’t help if my hair is blowing everywhere. This beanie from Amazon is fantastic and I love the lighter color as well as the fact it covers my ears completely.
Longer length coat
Coats that are longer in length with lots of padding do wonders for staying warm. The slim fit helps to keep body heat in and I also like that cold wind doesn’t blow on my lower back. Since I tend to hunch over a bit while walking on ice, this is very helpful!
The sun can reflect off of snow easily making it a bright white color. Since bright white can cause so much glare, I like to wear my sunglasses so that way my eyes don’t hurt. I do not have any difficulty walking when it is cloudy or nighttime while wearing sunglasses, however it is difficult when lots of snow is falling. My sunglasses are in my pocket for this picture because I had to troubleshoot my camera (I can’t see backlit displays in super dark sunglasses) and forgot to put them back on…fail.
They can’t be seen in this picture, but I am wearing a thermal shirt and fleece lined leggings underneath my clothes. It keeps me warm indoors and keeps the wind from hitting my legs too much. I got the thermal shirt from Target and the fleece lined leggings from Amazon.
Boots with traction
Like I mentioned in my post about walking in the rain, it is critical to have shoes that have solid traction. I have a couple different boots I wear in the snow, but for walking to the dining hall and back, this pair works perfectly. My calves are protected from the cold and from me hitting myself with my cane, and I don’t have to worry about slipping on ice.
Even though I can stay warm, I still try not to leave my dorm when there is snow on the ground because there is such a high fall risk. As I’ve mentioned before, I slid on ice walking to class one day (prior to class being cancelled) and I’ve fallen into snow piles quite often. The best option for people with low vision is to just stay inside when there is lots of ice, attend classes remotely, and have food delivered. Walking in a winter wonderland when you have low vision can be terrifying, but the key is to stay warm and walk carefully!