Winter represents the hardest times for people with mobility issues. Many elderly people with mobility issues prefer to stay in their homes rather than risk using their wheelchairs outside when winter precipitation creates a potentially unsafe environment. When snow and ice accumulate on surfaces, safe access to and around a building becomes difficult. Buildup of snow and ice in the winter can make using wheelchair ramps challenging, presenting a higher risk of slips and falls, increased walking effort and snow-ice wheelchair obstructions.
With snow and freezing temperatures happening this winter, a common question that might be in your mind is – “How to handle the snow and ice on our ramp”? When the snow and ice come down, it can create a precarious condition on flat ground, but when there is a slope, those surfaces become even more slippery. The risk of slipping while using a wheelchair ramp is high if the snow or ice is not cleared. When it comes to removing snow and ice on ramps, there are some quick and easy tips that will help make your life easier –
- Set a schedule for snow removal – When it comes to snow removal, it is important to wait until it stops snowing. Set a schedule to lightly shovel every one to three hours, depending on how long the snowfall is supposed to last. Clear sidewalks and curb ramps within 2-3 hours after it stopped snowing. On the other hand, if it snowed overnight, clear sidewalks and curb ramps within 3 hours after sunrise. Make sure to clear at least a 42-inch-wide path for people using wheelchairs and pushing strollers.
- Remove every bit of ice – Accumulated snow and ice can be removed by shoveling, sweeping, and using snow and ice products such as ice melting salts or chemicals. Clear every bit of the fluffy ice crystals on ramp sidewalks and pathways by using a thick-bristled push broom or plastic snow shovel instead of a metal shovel, as the latter will damage the aluminum wheelchair ramp surfaces. A stiff-bristled broom will push hard enough to get into the grooves of the ramp surface and remove the snow, but won’t scrub and scratch the surface. If the aluminum surface is scratched, oxidation will occur more quickly. Even after shoveling, if you find ice underneath, use a non-corrosive ice melt substance to remove ice from your driveway, sidewalk and front steps.
- Use cooking spray – When the heavy, wet snow proves difficult to spade, use some cooking spray on your shovel. To avoid a mess, make sure to fully wipe the ice shovel tool down before you store it back in the garage.
- Wear socks over your shoes – Wear a second pair of socks over your shoes or boots while doing snow removal as this will reduce your chances of falling when shoveling on an icy pavement.
- Use leaf blowers – Leaf blowers work well for removing light, fluffy snow.
- Place a plastic tarp – If you don’t have a shovel handy or if your snow blower isn’t working, try placing a plastic tarp over exposed sidewalks, walkways and even your car when snow is anticipated. And when the flurries stop, just pull the tarp to uncover a clear path.
Accumulation of snow and ice on ramps may cause or contribute to very serious slips and falls. Shovel or snow-blow the snow built on ramps into your yard or behind the sidewalk. Never place this snow in the gutter or street (as this will only melt and refreeze in front of your house).