Keeping warm

Sarah Alexander’s top 10 tips for staying warm

Disability and lifestyle blogger Sarah Alexander reveals how she stays warm in her wheelchair during the colder months.

I don’t know about you but as soon as the weather turns colder, my joints decide they no longer want to ever leave the house again. I wouldn’t mind but I am very much in my element during the autumn/winter months; I love the crisp air, the dark nights (I know, I’m an odd one), the layering of clothes, the cosy nights in and a long list of other things but my poor bones just can’t handle it. Part of me wants to stay indoors in a blanket fort with endless mugs of hot chocolate and my dogs snuggled at my feet, and the other part wants to visit Christmas markets, take my nephew on walks in the woods and wheel through fallen leaves. However, I know the latter will only end with me suffering if I don’t prepare correctly.

Going outdoors as a wheelchair user in the cold requires military precision planning. Over the years I have acquired quite a few tips that have saved me from turning into an icicle during this time of year.

1. A coat 

This is pretty obvious, right? But if you can get yourself a thick, long, waterproof coat with a hood, you’re onto a winner. Too many times I have chosen coats because they look cute but aren’t practical and I have paid the price. Definitely invest in a decent coat.

2. Gloves, scarf, hat 

Again, totally obvious but the amount of times I have gone out without my gloves and my hands have burned, yes, burned from the cold is too many. I now have a pair of gloves in my backpack at all times so I am not without them. Even in July, even in a heatwave, I have my gloves, just in case. I usually wear two pairs; a thin insulated pair and then waterproof ones over the top. A blanket scarf is amazing, too, because if you don’t wear it around your neck, you can put it over your legs. Who doesn’t love a multipurpose item?

3. A sleeping bag 

I’m deadly serious; they’re waterproof and super warm. I have mine zipped up to just above my waist and on freezing cold days, it’s incredible. Plus they’re available in loads of sizes and colours.

4. Snow boots

No, I have never been skiing nor do I plan to but buying a pair of snow boots was one of the best things I ever did. My extremities often feel like they’re going to fall off due to poor circulation, so when I’m out in my wheelchair my feet get very cold and then very sore. I bought a pair of faux fur lined snow boots a few years ago and it’s like my feet are being hugged by the friendliest of bears, so toasty.

5. Electric hot water bottle 

I don’t know what I would do without this item, I use it every night in bed when it’s cold or I need heat therapy, but I also take it out with me. It takes five minutes to heat up and lasts for two hours so I either heat it before I leave and put it behind my back or on my lap, or heat it up in a coffee shop whilst I’m out. It makes such a big difference and I love it.

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6. Hand warmers 

There’s so many hand warmers available and I highly recommend getting some; I keep mine in my coat pocket and after holding onto them for a few minutes, I get the feeling back in my fingers.

7. Heat pads 

Similar to the two above points; they’re affordable and easily available on the high street but only have one use. I find heat pads great if a particular joint or body part is aching and the warming sensation really pleasant. Some have to be placed directly on the skin though so do take that into consideration.

8. Blanket 

Depending on whether it is raining or not, I either use a blanket or a sleeping bag. I have a lovely, thick blanket that wraps around me twice and my boyfriend tucks under my feet, it’s super snug.

9. Thermals 

I never used to wear thermals but as the weather got colder, I found an extra layer really beneficial. If Jack Frost always catches you, it’s a good idea to get some.

10. Umbrella

A hood is all well and good but a golfing umbrella is even better!

Hopefully there are a few items in this list that help you stay warm this winter and keep the chill at bay when venturing outdoors.

Read more from Sarah at

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