Thinking About Snow
Last updated: February 2023
Oh, I so dislike Winter. I mean, I really do. I hate it. I like warmth. My joints and mood are much better in Spring and Summer. So much better that I have grown to dislike Fall, not because I dislike it (I love the smell and colors of the leaves) but instead because Winter follows. It is telling when you hate something so much that you grow to dislike what you like that comes before. Whew, there is a lot emotion in that paragraph.
Why do I hate Winter?
With AS, I have difficulty walking when it is so cold, and my joints feel awful. I know that is not universal in our community. Some people like the cold weather because it tames the pain in their joints. I wish that was my experience, but it is not. I am all about loathing Winter.
In addition to making my joints feel awful, Winter also increases the likelihood of a slip and fall. A minor fall can be a significant issue for a person with AS. So, I work hard to protect my joints from landing on the ground with my caboose on the concrete railway.
As I write this item, we expect snow in the next 24 hours. Today that is not a big deal for me, but for most of my career, snowfall meant the responsibility of clearing city streets and sidewalks or school parking lots and walks. I cannot tell you the number of times I was up all night preparing for or taking calls about snow removal. Along the way, I learned some keys to preparedness for snow removal that I have adapted in my personal life.
My hard learned tips:
While all my tips are obvious, each has at least one funny (now it is funny) story behind it.
- I get my boots ready (yes, I love my new boots). I ensure I have mud knocked off the treads because that saves the floor from the debris, I track in. Doing it with snow and ice on boots is almost impossible. How does that relate to my former responsibilities? Let's say four of the city seven plows cannot operate because they will not pass inspection for tire tread. Yes, that is uncomfortable.
- I check on my supply of ice melt. Goodness, how many times have I been in the middle of an ice event with no ice melt? Just about every time it snowed from 1981 to 2016 (see, I have experience). But the better way is to keep or obtain salt in the off-season. How did I learn this one? Hmm, maybe I learned my lesson when the City salt supply was not replenished because the street department did not want to pay the high prices in October. Why in October were they trying to buy ice melt? Could it be they forgot in June when prices are always lowest?
- Speaking of ice melt, be sure to get a noncarcinogenic product. If animals ingest the wrong stuff, it can be very toxic. We need to ensure that we are safe as we walk and that our animals are safe. Why might I say this? The consequences can be upsetting. Let's say a mammal accidentally ingested a small amount of product that some child (Orson, we know it was you) dropped ice melt in its water dish from the parking lot, even if Jazzy the school pig pulled through just fine, it was very expensive.
- Speaking of ice melt, do not layer it on hard surfaces. Yes, it is OK to use the prescribed amount but high concentrations can get into neighborhood drainage areas and create aquatic kill. That school aquatic project was ruined when a driver decided to drop a half bed of ice melt near a school pond so it would be easy for the overnight staff to use it to clear the walks. Let's just say that no one was happy when said staff members had to remove floating aquatic life off the surface of the pond in the spring.
I have found that these simple steps will keep the environment and all manner of life safe. But in case you are still skeptical, here are some sobering statistics from the CDC.
Slip and falls are never funny
In 2020 there were an estimated 5.2 million unintentional emergency department visits caused by falls.1 The average cost of these visits was $8,701.00.1 Loss of income due to these falls was estimated at $2,292.00 per fall.1
I could not find statistics for arthritis only or Winter only related falls, but I suspect it is a large amount of the total. The key is to be safe, plan ahead, and not blow your snow on your driveway. Like the city plows when they plowed my just-shoveled-driveway-exits. Oh, goodness, the stories I have heard about that.
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?