Staying Safe in the Winter

Winter Safety Tips for People with Disabilities

While some of us may love the colder months, winter weather can bring safety dangers for all people, including people with disabilities.

Icy walkways and freezing temperatures are two of the most likely problems, but there are other challenges that require careful planning. Here are our tips to help yourself stay safe and warm during any type of winter weather:

  1. Stay indoors and wear warm clothes. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. If you feel too warm, remove layers to avoid sweating; if you feel chilled, add layers.
  2. Check the news frequently so that you can be aware of any changes in weather conditions. The SC Emergency Management Division shares all important updates, which you can see on their website or Facebook account.
  3. If you lose power at any point, listen to a local station or NOAA Weather Radio on battery-powered radio for updated emergency information.
  4. Bring your companion animals inside before the storm begins.
  5. Move other animals to sheltered areas with a supply of non-frozen water. Most animal deaths in winter storms are caused by dehydration.
  6. Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.
  7. Stay hydrated by drinking fluids frequently. Drink liquids such as water, herbal tea, warm broth, or juice. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can both cause dehydration.
  8. Save fuel. Winter storms can last for several days, placing great demand on electric, gas, and other fuel distribution systems (fuel oil, propane, etc.). Lower the thermostat to 65° F (18° C) during the day and to 55° F (13° C) at night. Close off unused rooms, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under the doors. Cover the windows at night.
  9. Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone.
  10. Have emergency contacts written down.
  11. Connect with others on social media to check in, or to broadcast that you need help.
  12. Stock up in advance on foods.
  13. Have an emergency plan with your primary care doctor to talk about prescription refills, treatments, oxygen, and anything else that may be stuck by a winter storm.
  14. Reach out to your utility company (Dominion Energy) to find out about becoming listed as a life-sustaining equipment customer.
  15. If you need to travel in icy conditions, use road-salt to reduce the slip-and-fall risk. Sand or kitty-litter are good substitutes if salt is not available.
  16. All heaters need space. Keep children, pets and things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three (3) feet away from heating equipment.
  17. If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets, or near bedding or drapes. Never use a space heater in a confined area with poor ventilation. Plug power cords directly into outlets – never into an extension cord.
  18. Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
  19. Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace. Don’t close the flume on the fireplace for at least 12 hours after you put a fire out.
  20. Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
  21. Stay off the road if possible during a severe storm. If you must drive in winter weather, follow these tips:
  • Drive below the speed limit on icy or snowy roads.
  • Make sure everyone has their seat belts on and give your full attention to the road.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles too closely. Sudden stops are difficult on snowy roadways.
  • Don’t use cruise control when driving in winter weather.
  • Don’t pass snow plows.
  • Remember that ramps, bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways and take extra caution.

Remember, Able South Carolina is always here to support you. If you have any questions or need non-emergency assistance, email us at or call us at 803-779-5121. If you have an emergency, please call 911.