Winter Safety For Mobility Scooters & Wheelchairs
Most people have a love/hate relationship with winter weather. As a mobility scooter or wheelchair user, the snowfall, freezing rain, icy sidewalks and pathways can turn into a serious situation quickly.
Taking steps to assure you are safe is essential to getting through winter successfully.
Winter accidents include power wheelchair users getting stuck in the snow, slipping on the ice, difficulty ascending inclines/ramps, cold hands while using controls or pushing rims, and frozen wheelchair/scooter batteries. Certain preparations are critical, mainly for individuals who use scooters, manual and power wheelchairs to get through winter successfully. You will want to be prepared and consider the following winter weather tips so you can enjoy a safe season.
Clear sidewalks – It is important to make arrangements to clear your pathways and sidewalks. Sidewalks/roads were reported to be mainly problematic due to snowfall. Traditional as well as motorized wheelchair devices require sidewalks to be cleared wide enough to allow safe travel.
Choose a quality wheelchair ramp – You could choose a modular ramp, made of material that is not slippery when snow falls. Solid one piece aluminum wheelchair ramps for scooters, walkers, wheelchairs, canes and crutches are available. This is an excellent choice as a temporary ramp or when a more permanent ramp is desired. Wooden ramps often come with non-slip tape to offer better traction.
Get your mobility device prepared – Store your mobility equipment indoors and not in a carport or shed. Cold weather and freezing temperatures will adversely affect the devices and batteries. Prepare your vehicle to handle harsh weather conditions including snow storms.
Snow tires – Usually when snow tires are mentioned people generally think of cars and SUVs. But mobility devices need snow tires too. Consult with the repair service to have snow tires installed on your mobility device just in time to brave the elements. Pneumatic tires on a wheelchair or scooter will allow it to grip slippery services more easily.
Use table salt to remove ice – Be careful when using salt to remove ice. It is better to use table salt as it works well to get rid of ice. Often used salt material can cause metal ramps to rust, and rock salt can poison service animals.
Be prepared to stay warm – Use a backpack or specialized bag that easily and safely attaches to your mobility device. Keeping extra pairs of socks and gloves in the bag at all times will help you stay warm during the winter season. Dressing in layers is also essential to adjust to the rapidly changing weather throughout the day and night.
Always carry a cell phone – Carry your cell phone with you at all times. It’s best to keep it safely tucked in a special pouch on your wheelchair or scooter. You can even get a specialized cell phone holder that directly attaches to your wheelchair or mobility scooter. Make sure the cell phone battery is always charged. An extra step of precaution is to keep it in your pocket in the event of a fall.
Alert others – When you are going out in the winter weather alone, alert others. Make a list of close friends and family and ask them if you can put them on your alert list. This means that anytime you leave your home, even if it’s to go get the newspaper on the front lawn, you will contact one of the people on the list regarding the time you leave and return. This may sound extreme but it is necessary when you think of the possibility of your power wheelchair freezing up in the harsh winter temperatures causing you to be stranded outdoors in the cold.
Consider an exterior lift – Vertical porch lifts are the perfect solution to avoid dangerous, slippery outdoor stairs.
Be ready with back-up power sources – Portable generators and other types of back-up power sources are highly recommended. Remember your mobility device needs a fully charged battery to work properly. Make sure you are capable of charging the battery whether you have electricity in your home or not.
Stock your kitchen pantry – Snow storms often come out of nowhere. You may not have enough time to get to the store right before a storm hits. Stock your kitchen ahead of time, preferably at the beginning of the winter season. Focus on getting canned goods, bottled water and other items that have a long shelf-life.
If you live alone, take help from your family members, friends or neighbors and enjoy this cool season safely. Surviving the winter is a less stressful process when you are prepared with plenty of food, an alert list, snow shoveling service, cell phone and warm clothes. Always make sure someone knows where you are every time you leave your house. People on your alert list may need to save your life in an emergency if you get stranded in the snow.