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Tips For Including People With Disabilities At A Party

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to hold a party where all guests — with and without disabilities — feel welcomed, respected and have fun. All it takes is some planning.

 Don’t be afraid to include guests with disabilities
People with disabilities have their disabilities 24/7, so they know how to create work-arounds so that they feel comfortable. If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy — ask the person what they need to be fully included. All too often people with disabilities are not invited to events, or don’t go because they feel embarrassed to “put someone out” by asking for a simple thing that will help them attend. By telling them that their presence is valued, and asking what they need, you will build a new level of trust and affection. For example, one of the biggest things that aging loved ones need is a ride. So help them find a carpool or send an accessible taxi or ride to pick them up and return them home.

RSVP
Not all disabilities are visible, so you may not know that someone you want to include in your event has some special needs. By including a line about accommodations in the invitation’s RSVP, you are already letting guests know that everyone is welcome. If it’s a party for children, parents can tell you, right off the bat, what their child’s needs might be to attend the party. They will be happy you asked! “We want everyone to have fun — please let us know if you have dietary restrictions or require other special accommodations to attend! We will do our best to meet everyones needs.” Note that you aren’t promising to meet all needs — if you can’t find a sign language interpreter at the last minute or there is another issue, for example, you will be able to let your guest know in advance. Indeed, they may be able to help you find a solution!

Physical Access
Most public places are accessible. However, because religious institutions are exempted from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of them are not fully accessible. Thus, if your event is at a venue that is not physically accessible to all, move it to a place that is. That can mean a different room in a place of worship, or to a completely different place. Venues should have a ground level entrance or ramp, an elevator if it’s upstairs, and accessible bathrooms. Most public places (hotels, restaurants, bowling, video games, pools, bounce houses, etc.) are usually equipped for people with disabilities. Just check with the venue ahead of time. If you have someone coming who uses a wheelchair, you should also put the menorah on a table that is low enough for them to also be able to light candles.

Special Diets
Anyone can have allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance, but you won’t know unless you ask on the invitation RSVP. Making sure there is an option for cake, snacks, treats and other food for these guests can be as simple as picking up a gluten free cupcake to serve with the cake. It is thoughtful to have refreshments that everyone can enjoy.

Addressing attitude
Kids and adults can be daunted when encountering someone who is different from them. If it’s a children’s event you can talk to the group at the start of the party about kindness and respect for each other and each others differences. A party is a great opportunity for kids to learn about one another.

Involving parents
Parties can be exhausting for the hosts. Asking a parent or two to volunteer to help at the party, particularly if it’s a big group, can lighten the load for the hosts. Parents may feel more comfortable, especially if their child has social anxiety issues, if they are invited to stay or help as an option.

Sensory overload awareness
Parties can cause sensory overload for any child or adult. But for a person with autism or a sensory processing disorder, a party can be really overwhelming. Offer opportunities for guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd. Some venues may have options for turning down music or minimizing stimulation — and that is useful anywhere there are a lot of kids! Latex allergies (balloons) and chemical sensitivities (use of highly scented cleaners or staff wearing perfumes) are real issues. Solutions: Use alternative mylar balloons. Ask people to not wear strong scents, and choose unscented cleaning products.

Communication
If a guest attending the party is non-verbal or communicates in other ways such as American Sign Language or a communication board, talk about it with the guests. Installing free Dragon software onto an Ipad in advance can enable you to speak with someone who is deaf as it instantly transcribes what you are saying. Having an interpreter can be worth the cost, as all the people can communicate and maybe learn a little sign language! Remember to speak directly to a child or adult whether s/he is verbal or not.

Reading, Cognitive Access and Vision Issues
Children and adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read the menu, instructions for a scavenger hunt or a game score sheet. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful, as well as pairing children with those who can help. It’s always great to have an extra pair of reading glasses around if you are inviting seniors. But you can always tell someone who can’t see or read what they will need or what to know.

Enjoy the party!
Don’t let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, you’re already doing more than most! Stay positive, smile and throw that PARTY!

Holiday Travel Tips

Millions of people will take to the highways, skies, or rails to visit their loved ones over the upcoming holiday. With snow and sleet predicted for many parts of the country this weekend, here are some travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination:

Driving

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones – don’t text and drive.
  • Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Flying and Riding Trains

  • It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Travel Tips

  • If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor  explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
  • Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
  • If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
  • Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
  • Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
  • Leave the jewelry at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
  • Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
  • Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.

Home accessibility

Whether it’s an unexpected injury or a birth condition, a temporary disAbility or something you’ve been dealing with your entire life, a physical limitation can make all the difference in how a person completes his/her everyday tasks. Something as simple as entering and exiting your home can become challenging if your home has not been properly assessed and made accessible for those with disAbilities. In order to make sure your home is as welcoming and as accessible as possible, we encourage you follow these tips for transforming your habitat.

Entry Ramps and Lifts
From one step to one flight, stairs are a difficult hurdle and hazardous to a person living with a disAbility. Entry ramps or wheelchair lifts can be permanent or portable solutions for homes in need of becoming wheelchair accessible, providing ease of access into the house. Entry ramps prove to be especially beneficial when carrying heavy luggage, groceries or moving furniture. Aside from allowing a wheelchair user to easily enter and exit the building, ramps offer convenience to guests wheeling strollers or using walkers.

Handrails and Support Bars
Installing handrails and support bars along staircases, bathtubs, toilets and other areas where a person with a disAbility may struggle without them is an easy way to make your home more accessible. Make sure handrails following staircases extend beyond the first and last steps, providing maximum support. You can also purchase floor-to-ceiling poles and install them at various locations throughout the home. Placing these poles adjacent to couches ease in day-to-day movement through the space. They are designed to aid those with disAbilities in standing, sitting or transferring to/from a wheelchair.

Mind Your Floors
Cluttered hallways, loose rugs and high thresholds can be a danger to someone trying to maneuver through the building in a wheelchair. Try to keep your traffic areas free from unnecessary decorations such as side tables and rugs that cannot be secured to the floor. Plush carpets may also prove to be a hindrance for someone with a disAbility, so use hardwood or tiled floors wherever possible. Additionally, you can purchase flat thresholds at hardware stores, which make transferring from carpeted to non-carpeted areas less of a hazard.

Steer Yourself In The Right Direction To Find The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle takes time, money and a little bit of research. Because of the many available options when it comes to handicap vehicles, and the investment they require, knowing where to start your search is crucial and can shape the entire process. NMEDA member dealers work with individuals with disAbilities, as well as their caregivers and families, to ensure we steer you in the direction of the perfect vehicle for you. Here are a few useful tips and resources:

Go to the Pros
By going straight to a NMEDA members dealership, like ourselves, you’ll be sure that you’re getting the best possible care and attention, as well as professional service. All dealerships are required to adhere to strict quality standards under our Quality Assurance Program and, will provide you with the best solutions for your specific needs. Starting your search at a NMEDA dealer near you means you are sure you get behind the wheel of a handicap vehicle that’s right for you.

Establish Your Needs
Who will be the vehicle’s primary driver? Will you be driving from a wheelchair, transferring into the vehicle’s seat or transporting a loved one with a disability? Will you need to enter and exit the vehicle on your own or will help be nearby? Are you looking for a truck, car, minivan or a SUV? The answers to these questions can help determine what kind of adapted vehicle and equipment you need before diving into inventory listings.

Know Your Budget
We know that one of the most difficult parts of purchasing a new vehicle is making sure the cost is within your means. When it comes to finding a wheelchair accessible or adaptive vehicle, there are more options than you might realize. There are several state and government organizations in place to help get you the car you need.

Tips for a Safe, Fun and Accessible Halloween

The promise of handfuls of candy and elaborate decorations makes Halloween a pretty important date in any child’s calendar. This year, make your holiday memories even more special by following these tips!

Wheelchair Accessible Halloween

  • Plan your route out a few days before the holiday. At this point, most houses should have their decorations up in preparation for the big night, so you will be able to assess which houses will be easily accessible for you and your children.
  • Always make sure your child is comfortable wearing a costume, especially if the disguise includes a mask or other constricting pieces. If your kids are not warming up to wearing a bulky or elaborate costume but still want to do something special for Halloween, suggest a simple pair of animal ears or face paint. Also, don’t forget that Halloween takes place on a chilly October day, so plan your child’s outfit accordingly with added layers and cozy gloves!
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative! There are hundreds of great DIY costume ideas out there that can help transform your kids into their favorite characters or superheroes. You can even incorporate their wheelchairs or scooters into costumes. Designing and putting together a fun costume is a great activity to share with your children and can actually be a good learning exercise.
  • Because Halloween is a traditionally scary affair, be sure to prepare your kids for some spooky sights. Talk to them about some of the décor they might see while trick-or-treating, as well as the costumes others might be wearing to make sure they are not caught by surprise. If you notice your child is not responding well to some of these factors, suggest other less frightening yet equally fun activities you could do together, like carving a Jack-o-lantern or decorating your home for autumn.
  • If trick or treating is not the best option for your family, there is no need to forgo the holiday altogether. Throwing a Halloween party at home and stocking it with themed games and snacks can provide the same fun, memorable experiences for your child with added safety and the comforts of home.

Creative Wheelchair Halloween Costume Ideas

Wizard of OZ Star wars Mad Hatter Snoopy Queen of Hearts Mario Kart Motorcycle Batman - Adult Buz Lightyear Astronaut Rex - Toy Story popcorn machine pirate Viking Cinderella Thomas the train Bumble bee batman - child Fisherman Semi Truck Toothless

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Spending an average of 20 hours per week, more than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, people with disAbilties or aging friend or family member each year. For these individuals, caregiving can prove to be a rewarding opportunity, however there are many challenges they must face along the way. If you provide care for a person with a disAbility, here are some important things to keep in mind in order to ensure your own well being.

Ask for and accept help when you need it. As anyone can attest to, when one thing goes awry, other things can follow. Sometimes caregiving can become an overwhelming task and your to-do list will seem infinite. If you feel the stresses of your responsibilities becoming too heavy a weight, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. There might be other family members or friends willing to take your loved one to their appointments or even prepare meals in advance for them.

Do the best you can and don’t give in to guilt. Understand that there will be situations you won’t be able to fix or undo. Focus on what you are able to provide, and push aside feelings of inadequacy.

Seek social support and get to know other people in your position. Local and online support groups can be an amazing resource for meeting other, often experienced, caregivers able to provide encouragement and advice. Maintaining social and emotional connections can significantly improve your ability to manage the stress associated with caregiving.

Be willing to learn. Organizations such as the Red Cross offer courses on caregiving and there are countless online resources designed to teach you more about the particular condition your loved one is facing. An educated approach to caregiving can benefit both you and the ones you care for.

Take care of yourself as you do your loved ones. It’s important not to put your own health and well being aside when caring for a person with a disAbility. Make sure you’re seeing your doctor as often as it is recommended and stay on top of any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing. Make it a point to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible and consume a healthy, balanced diet.

Accessible Preparations for Memorial Day

Hosting a Memorial Day Party is the perfect way to kick off your summer adventures, and here are some tips on how to make sure your gathering is accessible and fun for all!

Choose Your Location
To ensure all of your guests are able to easily maneuver around your party and its surroundings, make certain there are ramps, lifts or unobstructed entryways available for guests in wheelchairs. Another thing to consider is parking. If some of your guests will be arriving in wheelchair accessible vans, they might need a little bit of extra room to deploy a lift or ramp.

You can host an accessible Memorial Day party if your home or apartment is less than wheelchair-friendly. Local parks often rent out pavilions or picnic areas for gatherings, and these areas often boast open spaces and paved paths, making them a great bet for guests in wheelchairs.

Perfect Your Spread
From grilling up veggies and even fresh fruits, to stocking up on refreshing drinks to beat the summer heat, making sure you’re serving up tasty treats is perhaps the most important part of throwing a great, memorable party. When planning your party’s spread, always take into consideration any possible allergies or food restrictions your guests might have. If you’re sending out invites, it might be a good idea to ask guests of any food requirements right on the invitation, so you’ll be armed with the right information when it comes time to shop and prep.

Don’t Forget the Entertainment
Every good party needs some entertainment. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and hire a full band though—making your own fun is easy! You could set out the board games for some old school fun or create a dance floor on your deck or living room with plenty of room. Start a game of trivia, charades or bingo, you could even break out the karaoke machine and make some hilarious and potentially embarrassing memories.

Memorial Day is a day for honoring and remembering all of the brave men and women who served (and continue to serve) in our country’s Armed Forces. As such, if you have a disabled veteran attending your party, think of ways that you can honor him/her in some special way.

Tips to Help Overcome the Fear of Driving

Practice practice practice:

  • To boost your confidence, drive to the end of the block and back or around an empty parking lot, then gradually go for longer drives.
  • Ask someone to accompany you if that helps you relax.

Patience:

  • Don’t start driving if you’re not calm and collected. Sit in the car and take deep breaths until you attain peace of mind and only then start the car and drive away.
  • Yoga classes may help you become a more focused, calm and less distracted driver.
  • If you get lost or experience panic, pull over until you calm down. Take as much time as you need. If you have a cell phone, call for directions.

Never get lost!

  • A Global Positioning System (GPS) may lessen the fear of getting lost.
  • No GPS? Print out the map directions from the Internet for those places you go frequently and keep them in the glove box.

Therapy:

Simple solutions to physical problems may help the mental and emotional pangs. For example, a spinner knob on the steering wheel allows accurate one-handed steering; hand controls replace feet for acceleration or braking—whatever the problem, there are solutions.

Occupational Therapists and Driver Rehabilitation Specialists can help. You can get a behind-the-wheel evaluation and recommendations for adaptive driving aids to help overcome many physical drawbacks. Whether the problem is muscle weakness, spasms or something else, therapists can address them.

Winter Weather Tips for People with DisAbilities: Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold

From commuting to work in your wheelchair accessible vehicle to visiting friends and family following the busy holiday season, here are some winter safety tips for people living with disAbilities.

Function Over Fashion
Dress in layers. Air gets trapped between the layers and acts as insulation. Wearing multiple layers of clothing also gives you the ability to remove layers when you perspire or add them when you get chilled.

Try to avoid wearing cotton clothing, as it will stay wet once it gets wet. Consider moisture wicking, polypropylene and other lightweight, man-made fabrics.

Wear warm gloves. Gripper driving gloves not only keep your hands warm but can help prevent slipping when sleet or ice stick to wheelchairs and other surfaces. Carry an extra pair of gloves with you, in case one pair gets wet.

Protect Your Face
Use sunscreen. People don’t think about it but when the sun reflects off of snow, severe sunburns can occur.

Another good idea is to use Vaseline on exposed areas of your face. It helps prevent your face from getting dry or chapped by acting as a moisture insulator.

Getting Around
Using a wheelchair in snow can be very strenuous, especially if you’re not accustomed to it. Always be careful when maneuvering through the snow, as the extra exertion could have negative effects on your body. If possible, have somebody with you to help.

Pneumatic tires or those made from soft rubber can give wheelchairs better traction on snow and ice. An alternative is to use mountain bike tires that have knobby treads.

Always take your time on slippery surfaces so you don’t go into a slide and lose control. Be especially mindful while driving a mobility vehicle and keep winter driving tips for maneuvering over slush, ice and snow in mind.

Batteries can lose 60% of their charge when temps get cold, so keep them warm with covers.

Make sure you take proper care of your handicap accessible vehicle by following the appropriate winter car-care suggestions.

Don’t Forget Your Pets
Dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, too. If you’re accompanied by a service animal or taking a pet outside, consider a dog coat and boots for their feet. It’s also a good idea to keep a blanket in your vehicle for your pet.

Cold Weather Tips for Your Van

Frigid temperatures not only slow us down, but can slow our van and accessible equipment. For example, if you use a hydraulic wheelchair lift, you may have noticed that the colder the weather, the slower the lift reacts. The cold thickens the fluid, making it move slower through hoses, valves and cylinders.

There’s not much you can do about that, but preparing other equipment for cold weather is important to help avoid accidents and breakdowns.

If you live in northern climates, get an oil change, tune-up, and/or semi-annual lift service and have any other accessible equipment checked before the temperature dips. A professional should also check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, brakes, defroster and thermostat.

Do It Yourself:

  • Purchase winter wiper blades that cut through snow and ice.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full. It reduces condensation and makes your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
  • Buy tires that have MS, M+S, M/S or M&S on them, meaning they meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association guidelines and can bite through mud and snow.
  • For better traction and control, rotate tires so the best ones are in the front.
  • Get an electric engine block heater. It warms the engine so the motor can start. It connects to normal AC power overnight or before driving. In extremely cold climates, electrical outlets are sometimes found in public or private parking lots.
  • Cold weather is tough on accessible van batteries. Buy one with greater starting power, higher cold cranking amps and reserve capacity for energy when the engine isn’t running.
  • Use synthetic oil to make starting a cold engine easier.

Before you drive:

  • Keep rock salt on hand to melt ice off walkways for a safer wheelchair ride.
  • Clean the snow off the roof and hood so it doesn’t “avalanche” onto the windshield and block your vision.
  • Clear the head and tail lights for best visibility.
  • Scrape the ice off mirrors and windows.

Holiday Travel Safety Tips

With Christmas and New Year’s swiftly approaching, multitudes of people will be traveling.  AAA predicts 98.6 million Americans will travel this holiday season between December 23, 2014 and January 4, 2015.  The organization also anticipates that 91% will travel by car, truck, or van, 6% will travel by air, and 3% will take a bus or train.  All of this travel traffic can make it treacherous to get around if you are not paying attention.

In addition to the higher risk of traveling during the holidays with the extra people on the road, the weeks before can also be dangerous as many folks are out shopping and may be distracted as the frantically rush around searching for the perfect gifts.

Awareness of the days with the highest number of vehicles on the road and staying alert are extremely important strategies to staying safe while traveling.  Other strategies for staying safe are:

  • Try to travel on days and at times that are not peak travel days and times.  If most people will be traveling Wednesday through Sunday, try to travel Tuesday through Saturday.  Strive to travel early in the day and at times when traffic volume is the lowest.
  • Plan your route around malls, big stores, airports, and major sporting venues to avoid the crowds and congestion.
  • Before a long drive, make sure you get plenty of sleep and have something to eat.
  • Take breaks every few hours, even if you’re not sleepy. Get out and walk around to stretch your legs.  Play Frisbee or catch with the kids.  Have a snack.  It will keep you more alert.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in prime condition before the trip. Change the oil, if needed.  Make sure the fluid levels and gas tank are full and that tires are properly inflated.
  • Share the driving. If you are alone, turn on the music and crack the window to help stay alert.  You may want to use your foot on the gas pedal to control the speed and not the cruise control to keep yourself more vigilant.
  • Make sure everyone is buckled up.
  • Make sure the vehicle is stocked with a map or atlas, jumper cables, spare tire, wiper fluid, first aid kit, pillow, blanket, and snacks. Bringing snacks from home is usually healthier and cheaper than getting them from a vending machine.
  • If traveling with children, pack activities to entertain them such as movies, coloring books, toys, activity books, etc. Remember to stop for frequent breaks and to have some fun.
  • Start looking for a gas station when your gas gauge reads ¼ tank. Don’t wait until you are on empty to fill up. The next exit with a gas station may be quite a distance away.

Driving Safely In Winter

Unfortunately, snow isn’t the only thing to watch out for while behind the wheel of a wheelchair accessible vehicle during the colder months. There’s also slush, black ice and blizzards. Fortunately, with the correct driving techniques, each can be handled stress free and safely.

Be Prepared
First and foremost, if you’ll be driving in the snow anytime soon, be prepared. This means having you car winterized before it’s needed. Depending on your location this can mean installing both snow tires and winter windshield wipers. Be sure to contact your local NMEDA dealer to find out if there are any special precautions you should take to get your handicap van ready for the snow. Additionally, have your battery, defroster, and antifreeze checked and stock your vehicle with emergency supplies like blankets, flashlights, food, water, shovel, sand, and first aid. Also, it’s a good idea to always have at least a half tank of gas. This gives the car some extra weight to help prevent skidding, but it’s also is safer in the event of getting lost or stranded. Finally, be sure to plan for extra time to get to your destination. You should never feel rushed or feel as if you have an excuse to speed.

Driving in Snow
First things first, slow down! Ten to fifteen miles per hour is a good speed of thumb when driving in snow. Always give yourself more stopping room because even in mild conditions, a little bit of skidding can be common. Also, try not to use cruise control. Your reaction time will not only be delayed, but if your vehicle begins to slide it will continue to accelerate. Make turns gently and avoid changing lanes unless necessary. If you must switch lanes, turn your wheel gradually to avoid fish tailing.

In the event you do slide off the road, don’t immediately try to gun it out or else you may dig yourself in. First, try a gentle acceleration. If this doesn’t get you out, stop and turn your wheel side to side to push snow away from the tires. Your best bet is to then use a shovel to clear snow and then spread sand for traction, however if you have limited mobility or use a wheelchair (meaning maneuvering in the snow might be difficult), it might be best to call a family member or emergency road service to help you get back on the road.

Driving on Ice
Iced over roads are one of the most dangerous aspects of driving during the winter. Black ice is hard to spot because it’s almost invisible, but if you begin to slide over it, take your foot off both the brake and the accelerator. Let your car slide and try to keep the car straight until you get traction back. If you lose control and start going off the road, try to guide your car toward an area with minimal damage possibilities. In general, look out for shady spots where the sun can’t melt the ground because black ice is more likely found here.

Driving in a Blizzard
If a blizzard hits while you’re out on the road, turn on your lights so that other drivers can easily see you, avoid changing lanes and be sure to pull over if you feel unsafe. If you do pull over, just make sure to get away from traffic and turn on your hazard lights.

If possible, avoid driving in the snow completely. If you do need to go out, many counties and towns list what roads have been plowed and salted online, so check to see if you can plan a safer route.

Hopefully with these tips you’ll now have a better understanding of how to handle your vehicle on winter roads. In general, if there’s any snow, ice, or slush on the road, driving slower and giving enough stopping room will eliminate many of the problems you might face. Add some common sense and good judgment, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering inclement weather.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #10

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #10

Tip 10: Keep an Emergency Kit Inside Your Car

The simplest thing you can do to combat the cold weather is to keep a few essential supplies and tools with you as you drive. You’ll obviously want a spare tire and the tools to change out a flat, but it’s a good idea to keep some extra material in the trunk as well. Bottles of engine oil, washer fluid and coolant all come in handy. An ice scraper is a necessity, since you and your car won’t be going anywhere with frozen snow blocking your view.

Flashlights and flares are helpful if you’re stuck on the road late at night when visibility levels are low. Even if you’re wearing a coat, an extra pair of gloves, boots or even a blanket can keep you warm and dry if your heating unit isn’t working properly.

 

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #9

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #9

Tip 9: Make Sure You Rust Proof Your Vehicle

Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your Vehicle. If neglected, the damages can make your vehicle investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your vehicle from falling apart.

Rust is a serious problem and spreads like a rash. It can shorten the lifespan and value of any vehicle.

The best time to prevent rust damage to your vehicle is in Autumn: before the first snowflake falls and Spring: after the first heavy rain fall; a little vehicle maintenance will help keep the rust away.

 

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #8

Tip 8: Check Your Vehicle’s Belts and Hoses

The belts and hoses under your car’s hood are typically checked when the car is due for a tune-up (usually every 30,000 miles). Even if you’re not getting a tune-up this winter, it doesn’t hurt to have a mechanic take a look at how everything is holding up around your engine. Cold temperatures can weaken belts and hoses, and if something snaps or breaks while you’re out on the road, a tow truck will be the only way to get moving again.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #7

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #7

Tip 7: Replace Windshield Wipers and Wiper Fluid

Low visibility can make driving in cold weather extremely dangerous, so it’s important to make sure the wiper blades are up to par. Your wiper blades are made out of rubber, and with time they’ll crack, split and deteriorate. It’s suggested that you replace your windshield wipers every six to 12 months. Keeping your wiper fluid filled up is also a plus, as fluid can assist in breaking up snow and ice on the windshield.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #6

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #6

Tip 6: Check Your Defrosting and Heating Units

When our windshields fog up in the winter, it’s because moisture from inside the car condenses on the glass and makes it very difficult to see. Water vapor coming in from an open window — or even from your own breathing — can fog up a window. Defrosters solve this problem by blowing warm, dry air over the glass. If you’re sure your defroster unit is functioning properly but there’s still a problem with too much fogging, have your car checked for air leaks around the doors and windows bringing in extra moisture.

It’s also important to stay warm and comfortable while driving, since shivering makes it difficult to steer or pay attention to the road. If your heater isn’t working, you may have a faulty heater coil. Although heater coils are expensive to replace, it will be worth it during cold winter mornings if you don’t want to freeze behind the wheel.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #5

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #5

Tip 5: Keep Your Fuel Tank Full

Do you ever let your gas tank run on fumes until the very last moment, only to fill it up with about $15 worth of gas? Although it’s never a great idea to do this any time of the year because you run the risk of getting stranded, the damage you might inflict on your car with a near-empty tank during winter is much worse. Cold and constantly shifting temperatures can cause condensation to form on the walls of a gas tank in the red, and soon water will drip down and into the gas. It will eventually sink to the bottom, since water is heavier than gas, which is bad news — if water finds its way into the fuel lines, it will freeze up, blocking any flow of gas to the engine and effectively halting your travel plans. Any repairs that have to be made can be costly, too, so despite gas prices, keeping your tank full will help both your car and your wallet.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #4

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #4

Tip 4: Put in the Right Amount of Antifreeze

Antifreeze protects your engine from both freezing in cold weather and heating up on hot days, and it also cuts back on corrosion. It’s important to keep equal parts antifreeze and water in your radiator — a 50:50 ratio is considered the norm and will keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as -34 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, you won’t have to stand over your engine with a measuring cup — you can buy pre-mixed bottles of antifreeze and water at gas stations. If you don’t pay attention to the amount of antifreeze, the coolant can freeze, and the engine will get extremely hot. Chances are you’ll blow a gasket or two, and the cost of replacing them with labor can be expensive.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #3

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #3

Check Your Oil

Oil lubricates the metal surfaces of your engine and stops them from grinding together and causing a lot of damage. The viscosity — or thickness — of the oil greatly affects your engine’s performance. If the oil is too thick, it will flow too slowly between parts and your engine will get too hot. In the winter time, cold temperatures cause oil to thicken, but you can overcome this problem by filling your engine with an oil of a lower viscosity. Your owner’s manual should tell you the ideal type of oil you should use, and it also might specifically suggest a thinner oil type depending on the season. Remember, most technicians recommend that you change your oil every 3,000 miles or once every three months.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #2

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Tip 2: Check Your Battery

Car batteries last for about three to five years, so it’s best to keep track of how old yours is. If it’s time to get a new one, you can replace it in the fall when batteries typically go on sale. Winter months are tough on your engine and cause it to work harder, and this puts more pressure on the battery.

If your battery isn’t that old, it’s still good to take a look and make sure nothing’s wrong. Check the battery cables and clamps for fraying or corrosion. If there’s a white, powdery substance around the clamps, that’s corrosion from battery acid — you can clean it off easily with baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Your battery is also filled with fluid, so make sure it has enough inside. Most batteries have caps on top, and you can check the level by removing the caps. If it’s low, fill the holes with distilled water, being careful not to fill past the bottom of the cap.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #1

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #1

Tip #1: Check Your Tire Pressure and Consider Snow Tires

Wet or icy roads can cause dangerous accidents in the winter, so it’s very important to make sure your tires are equipped to handle adverse weather conditions. If you choose to use regular tires on your car, check the air pressure on each tire. Deflated tires close up the tread and significantly decrease traction, increasing the likelihood of sliding on icy patches. Many gas stations have the tools available for you to check tire pressure, and it costs nothing or next to nothing to fill your tires with the right amount of air — again, the owner’s manual should list the suggested pounds per square inch (PSI). Here are some other tire tips and suggestions:

  • Some people keep salt in their cars — if your car is stuck in snow or on ice, sprinkling salt in front of your tires can offer some more traction and get things moving.
  • If you ever find yourself skidding on an icy road, don’t put on the brakes, even if your instincts tell you to do so. Instead, take your foot off of the accelerator and guide your car to safety by turning the wheel in the opposite direction you’re skidding.
  • If you live in an area that gets hit particularly hard in the wintertime, purchasing snow or winter tires and replacing regular tires can be helpful, as they offer improved traction, braking and control.

Holiday Travel Tips

Millions of people will take to the highways, skies, or rails to visit their loved ones over the upcoming holiday. With snow and sleet predicted for many parts of the country this weekend, here are some travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination:

Driving

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones – don’t text and drive.
  • Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Flying and Riding Trains

  • It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Travel Tips

  • If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor  explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
  • Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
  • If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
  • Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
  • Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
  • Leave the jewelry at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
  • Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
  • Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.

Steer Yourself In The Right Direction To Find The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle takes time, money and a little bit of research. Because of the many available options when it comes to handicap vehicles, and the investment they require, knowing where to start your search is crucial and can shape the entire process. NMEDA member dealers work with individuals with disAbilities, as well as their caregivers and families, to ensure we steer you in the direction of the perfect vehicle for you. Here are a few useful tips and resources:

Go to the Pros
By going straight to a NMEDA members dealership, like ourselves, you’ll be sure that you’re getting the best possible care and attention, as well as professional service. All dealerships are required to adhere to strict quality standards under our Quality Assurance Program and, will provide you with the best solutions for your specific needs. Starting your search at a NMEDA dealer near you means you are sure you get behind the wheel of a handicap vehicle that’s right for you.

Establish Your Needs
Who will be the vehicle’s primary driver? Will you be driving from a wheelchair, transferring into the vehicle’s seat or transporting a loved one with a disability? Will you need to enter and exit the vehicle on your own or will help be nearby? Are you looking for a truck, car, minivan or a SUV? The answers to these questions can help determine what kind of adapted vehicle and equipment you need before diving into inventory listings.

Know Your Budget
We know that one of the most difficult parts of purchasing a new vehicle is making sure the cost is within your means. When it comes to finding a wheelchair accessible or adaptive vehicle, there are more options than you might realize. There are several state and government organizations in place to help get you the car you need.

Home accessibility

Whether it’s an unexpected injury or a birth condition, a temporary disAbility or something you’ve been dealing with your entire life, a physical limitation can make all the difference in how a person completes his/her everyday tasks. Something as simple as entering and exiting your home can become challenging if your home has not been properly assessed and made accessible for those with disAbilities. In order to make sure your home is as welcoming and as accessible as possible, we encourage you follow these tips for transforming your habitat.

Entry Ramps and Lifts
From one step to one flight, stairs are a difficult hurdle and hazardous to a person living with a disAbility. Entry ramps or wheelchair lifts can be permanent or portable solutions for homes in need of becoming wheelchair accessible, providing ease of access into the house. Entry ramps prove to be especially beneficial when carrying heavy luggage, groceries or moving furniture. Aside from allowing a wheelchair user to easily enter and exit the building, ramps offer convenience to guests wheeling strollers or using walkers.

Handrails and Support Bars
Installing handrails and support bars along staircases, bathtubs, toilets and other areas where a person with a disAbility may struggle without them is an easy way to make your home more accessible. Make sure handrails following staircases extend beyond the first and last steps, providing maximum support. You can also purchase floor-to-ceiling poles and install them at various locations throughout the home. Placing these poles adjacent to couches ease in day-to-day movement through the space. They are designed to aid those with disAbilities in standing, sitting or transferring to/from a wheelchair.

Mind Your Floors
Cluttered hallways, loose rugs and high thresholds can be a danger to someone trying to maneuver through the building in a wheelchair. Try to keep your traffic areas free from unnecessary decorations such as side tables and rugs that cannot be secured to the floor. Plush carpets may also prove to be a hindrance for someone with a disAbility, so use hardwood or tiled floors wherever possible. Additionally, you can purchase flat thresholds at hardware stores, which make transferring from carpeted to non-carpeted areas less of a hazard.

Tips for a Safe, Fun and Accessible Halloween

The promise of handfuls of candy and elaborate decorations makes Halloween a pretty important date in any child’s calendar. This year, make your holiday memories even more special by following these tips!

Wheelchair Accessible Halloween

  • Plan your route out a few days before the holiday. At this point, most houses should have their decorations up in preparation for the big night, so you will be able to assess which houses will be easily accessible for you and your children.
  • Always make sure your child is comfortable wearing a costume, especially if the disguise includes a mask or other constricting pieces. If your kids are not warming up to wearing a bulky or elaborate costume but still want to do something special for Halloween, suggest a simple pair of animal ears or face paint. Also, don’t forget that Halloween takes place on a chilly October day, so plan your child’s outfit accordingly with added layers and cozy gloves!
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative! There are hundreds of great DIY costume ideas out there that can help transform your kids into their favorite characters or superheroes. You can even incorporate their wheelchairs or scooters into costumes. Designing and putting together a fun costume is a great activity to share with your children and can actually be a good learning exercise.
  • Because Halloween is a traditionally scary affair, be sure to prepare your kids for some spooky sights. Talk to them about some of the décor they might see while trick-or-treating, as well as the costumes others might be wearing to make sure they are not caught by surprise. If you notice your child is not responding well to some of these factors, suggest other less frightening yet equally fun activities you could do together, like carving a Jack-o-lantern or decorating your home for autumn.
  • If trick or treating is not the best option for your family, there is no need to forgo the holiday altogether. Throwing a Halloween party at home and stocking it with themed games and snacks can provide the same fun, memorable experiences for your child with added safety and the comforts of home.

Creative Wheelchair Halloween Costume Ideas

Batman - Adult Buz Lightyear Mad Hatter Mario Kart Motorcycle Queen of Hearts Semi Truck Star wars Toothless Wizard of OZ Astronaut batman - child Bumble bee Cinderella Fisherman pirate popcorn machine Rex - Toy Story Snoopy Thomas the train Viking

Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Spending an average of 20 hours per week, more than 65 million people provide care for a chronically ill, people with disAbilties or aging friend or family member each year. For these individuals, caregiving can prove to be a rewarding opportunity, however there are many challenges they must face along the way. If you provide care for a person with a disAbility, here are some important things to keep in mind in order to ensure your own well being.

Ask for and accept help when you need it. As anyone can attest to, when one thing goes awry, other things can follow. Sometimes caregiving can become an overwhelming task and your to-do list will seem infinite. If you feel the stresses of your responsibilities becoming too heavy a weight, don’t hesitate to ask others for help. There might be other family members or friends willing to take your loved one to their appointments or even prepare meals in advance for them.

Do the best you can and don’t give in to guilt. Understand that there will be situations you won’t be able to fix or undo. Focus on what you are able to provide, and push aside feelings of inadequacy.

Seek social support and get to know other people in your position. Local and online support groups can be an amazing resource for meeting other, often experienced, caregivers able to provide encouragement and advice. Maintaining social and emotional connections can significantly improve your ability to manage the stress associated with caregiving.

Be willing to learn. Organizations such as the Red Cross offer courses on caregiving and there are countless online resources designed to teach you more about the particular condition your loved one is facing. An educated approach to caregiving can benefit both you and the ones you care for.

Take care of yourself as you do your loved ones. It’s important not to put your own health and well being aside when caring for a person with a disAbility. Make sure you’re seeing your doctor as often as it is recommended and stay on top of any concerns or symptoms you may be experiencing. Make it a point to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible and consume a healthy, balanced diet.

Winter-Maintenance Tips for Your Wheelchair Van

Winter Driving
Maintain Your Mobility Equipment

We recommend keeping the bottom door track of your handicapped van clear of any debris by vacuuming out the track every 2 or 3 weeks. Debris in the bottom track will cause the door motor to work harder and even weaken or burn out prematurely. Such problems will only be more of an inconvenience in cold weather.

Check Your Brakes
Make sure your brakes are in good working condition. You should never postpone having brake work done because you never know when you might have to drive on snowy or icy roads.

Check Your Lights
Headlights are essential in snowy weather; not only do they help you see clearly, but they also help others see you. So you make sure your lights are clean and that all bulbs and fuses are working properly.

Remember Your Fluids
We advise having all fluids (including brake fluid, antifreeze, washer fluid, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, etc.) checked and “topped off.” In addition, we also recommend that you consider keeping a half tank of gas in your accessible vehicle at all times–you don’t want to run out of gas in an emergency.

Don’t Forget Your Battery
Having your battery checked is especially crucial for handicapped accessible vans. The cold weather is strenuous on any battery but even more so on an accessible van’s battery. An accessible van has to power ramps, lifts, and doors, so it uses more battery power than other minivans. A common problem we see at our Mobility Center is customers who do not drive their accessible van enough to keep the battery charged and healthy. You can keep the battery charged by driving your vehicle more than 3 hours a week or by using a battery charger. Under normal conditions, batteries will typically last for 3½ years, so if your battery is older than that, we recommend that you make sure that it’s in good condition or think about replacing it.

Good Tire Maintenance Is Crucial
Good tires might be one of the most essential driving tools in winter weather. Worn, bald, badly aligned, or badly balanced tires can cause accidents in any type of slippery weather. You’ll need to test the air pressure and tread on your tires and have your tires rotated so that the better ones are in the front for more traction and control. If you need new tires soon, don’t wait, get them now! If you have snow tires and live in areas with heavy and frequent snowfall, don’t hesitate to use them.

Don’t Forget Your Windshield
Taking care of the windshield on your wheelchair van entails more than having good wipers. Windshields on minivans and full-sized vans are large, so having good wipers and properly functioning rear and front defrosters are musts. Also, small dings in a windshield can become large cracks when it’s cold. Cracks are a result of the stress of having freezing temperatures on the outside of the windshield and the warm heater on the interior of the windshield. If this occurs, fix the ding and avoid the risk of replacing a costly van-sized windshield!

Snow Equipment
If you ever get stuck or break down in snow or other inclement winter weather, having the appropriate equipment to get yourself out of your vehicle is important. We recommend keeping a shovel, sidewalk salt, snow scraper/brush, jumper cables, spare tire, jack, and flares in your vehicle during the winter months. Also, if you live in an area with frequent and/or heavy snowfall, keep tire chains in your vehicle for extra traction.

Emergency Kit
Another recommendation is keeping a snow emergency kit in your car. Your emergency kit should include a cell phone, a cell-phone car charger, a blanket, a flashlight with good batteries, hand warmers, snacks, and water. Your kit should be able to keep you relatively comfortable while waiting in your vehicle for assistance to arrive. Please remember, if you’re waiting in your vehicle for assistance, make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of any snow or ice so carbon monoxide won’t enter the vehicle.

Lastly, we always recommend that, if you can, you stay in when the road conditions are bad. However, if you need to venture out, here are some precautions to remember when driving in bad weather:

Clear All Snow Off Your Vehicle
Make sure that you clear all of the snow and ice off of your vehicle before you go anywhere. Ice and snow clumps that aren’t cleared off can be very dangerous because they can suddenly shift and obstruct your view or fly off your vehicle into another driver’s view. Allow yourself extra time before venturing out to take the steps needed to clear all of the snow off your accessible vehicle—even if it includes asking a friend or neighbor for assistance.

Slow Down
Reducing your speed by 50% allows more control over your vehicle in the event that you begin to skid or hydroplane. However, slowing down too much or stopping on heavy snow-filled roads can cause a vehicle’s tires to spin and get stuck in the snow. While driving in snow, you should keep some momentum so that your tires are continuously moving and you don’t lose traction.

Recovering From a Skid
If you’re driving in inclement weather and your vehicle starts to skid, the best thing to do is to steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go—and not hit your brakes. Your normal reaction might be to brake, but that can make the wheels lock up, making steering difficult. Driving in the snow can be dangerous, so if you aren’t comfortable, try to avoid the roads in severe weather.

Rust Prevention
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast, but our rust prevention processes, product, plan and application has been found to be most effective. Our rust proofing is ever evolving and has been for over the past 25 years.

  • Our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required, we apply it as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your handicap accessible vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

 

As seen in the picture below this van has heavy rust and metal fatigue due to a lack of maintenance.
IMG_0697Once the rust is this bad there’s not much we can do other than replace the van.
So call us or come in today to rust proof your van before it’s too late.