Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snowbound in Toledo

It's been an interesting week here in northwestern Ohio.

A few days ago a passing weather system dumped nearly a foot of snow on us, and now today it's snowing again. We're expecting two more inches. Then tomorrow, two more. With drifting some counties could see as much as two feet. By the weekend the temps are expected to dip to zero, or even lower if you count the wind chill factor.

I always do.

Snow is a merriment for some (sledding, and no school) and a misery for others (shoveling, and longer drive times to work) but handicapped or not, snow and ice can be a real bother, or even outright dangerous.

That's what I want to talk about today.

Those of us who use crutches or a cane for extra mobility support need to be especially careful when "the weather outside is frightful." Even a dusting of snow can hide a thin sheet of ice underneath, and a slip and fall on steps or sidewalk can cause severe injuries. That's why I'm always on the lookout for products or services that work harder, or smarter, so I don't have to. One company providing useful assistive products of this type is Thomas Fetterman, Inc.

In addition to a variety of high quality crutches, canes (and the best rubber tips for them I've ever found) they sell one product in particular that I find to be especially useful during the seemingly endless cold and snowy months here in Toledo.

Thomas Fetterman Icetips.

They fit canes or crutches and work on the same principle as studded snow tires. The "pullover" design covers the entire bottom surface of the crutch tip, and slips up and out of the way for indoor use. They come in three sizes to cover almost any size of tip, and require no tools for installation. Icetips cost about $20 for the pair, and no, I don't get a commission for "selling" these. I just think they're great. I also recommend a similar product of theirs called Spiky-Plus which is a stretchy rubber "slip-over" system that adds small cleats to the bottoms of your regular shoes for extra traction. They cost about $39 for the pair.

Together, these two products can help almost anyone stay just a bit safer, and more secure, when ice and snow threaten to further limit our already limited mobility.

And just in case you wheelchair users think I have forgotten about you, think again. Most anyone who has tried to operate an electric wheelchair, power chair or scooter knows that their traction suffers significantly beyond a snow depth of about two inches. Another consideration is salt, a mineral which can be highly corrosive to a motorized chair's moving parts.

So, how does one keep an outdoor ramp clear of ice and snow in the winter if salt is not an option?

One solution may be the Ice-Away Snow and Ice Mat.

Designed to keep your ramp safe and clear of snow and ice all winter long, this heavy duty rubber mat may be just the solution you've been looking for. It plugs into any standard 110v outlet (15-foot cord) and can melt up to two inches of snow and ice per hour. The mat measures 36" x 32" and is made of heavy duty rubber with a treaded surface like an automobile tire. Cost from this supplier is $179 but shop around. You may be able to find it cheaper.

So, here I sit, looking out of my window and dreading the several months of winter that lie ahead. Still, it's not all bad. The new season of "24" is starting (Jack is Back!) and my trusty little space heater is cranking out plenty of the warmth that my poor old body requires for survival. I hope wherever you are, you are keeping warm as well. Perhaps I should have dedicated today's post to thermal blankets...


  1. Update: After posting this blog entry I received an email from Mr. Thomas Fetterman relating a story about how his "Ice Tips" product came to be invented. I thought others might find it interesting.
    - Lawrence

    [email follows, edited for relevance.]

    Dear Lawrence,

    I invented these one year when we had three major ice storms here in the Philadelphia area. Everything was "black ice" and just walking the 20 feet to my car turned catastrophic. I slipped and fell and could get no traction with my crutch tips to get me up. I had to crawl to my car door and open it up so I could pull myself up. This incident provoked me to find a better way and over time Fetterman Ice Tips evolved. Now I put them on as soon as the weather turns cold.

    Great job on your blog. Keep up the good work building community in the disability world... we all deserve it!

    Stay vertical!


  2. Nice blog post, Lawrence! I am going to look into these items. Though no one uses a cane all the time here, we do get patches of ice and it would be a good thing to have Ice Tips around, just in case.

    Love the focus of the blog and will follow. Great going.


  3. Dear JudiElise,

    Thank you for your kind comments, and for becoming a follower. I'm going to do my best to keep the blog posts interesting, and relevant. Hope you'll comment again if you find yourself wanting to. Feedback and Community is what this blog is all about.

    Be well.