With the winter months fast approaching, the weather can make it a difficult season for those using mobility equipment. Whether it's an electric wheelchair, mobility scooter or another kind of mobility product, the ice, snow and winter chill can make it difficult and sometimes even dangerous to get around. However, there are many tips you can take advantage of that will help with those physical and seasonal challenges, which is why it is so important to be aware of potential dangers that come with the season.
Use a Buddy System
Although this tip is most commonly used for children walking to school, it can be just as useful for those with mobility difficulties. Having a friend or family member help when travel is required during the winter season is crucial for fall prevention and other difficulties that may come when using a wheelchair or mobility scooter in the winter. It could be as simple as having someone come over once a week to help you run your errands, or setting up a plan for a neighbour to help you to and from a mobility vehicle. Sometimes all it takes is to reach out for a helping hand.
Precautions and Preparation
It is crucial to always take necessary precautions and preparation for the winter months. These following tips are vital for your safe travels and fall prevention and should never be underestimated. Make sure that all mobility equipment is working properly, and consider taking any electric wheelchairs or mobility products in for regular maintenance. This is to ensure that all brakes are working thoroughly, and the battery is running effectively and many more elements that are crucial to your safety when dealing with treacherous conditions. You may also want to consider adding grips to tires onto the wheelchair or electric scooter to avoid any sliding or possibilities of getting stuck in the snow. Wheelblades are an incredible option that add small, high-end skis to the front of your wheels with one simple click, and they significantly improve mobility through the icy and snowy conditions that are inevitable during the winter.Additionally, grip strips for ramps are also recommended as the cold weather can cause freezing to
occur on surfaces as well as clearing snow from the base of vertical porch lifts.
One of the best things you can do as someone dealing with mobility difficulties is to be aware of the weather and your surroundings. Check the weather frequently to see if there is a snowstorm coming your way, and change your plans accordingly. You also want to be aware of snow, slush and puddles while you're out in your power wheelchair or mobility scooter. Avoid areas that seem difficult to trek through, and if you do have to pass through some precipitation that has gathered on the ground, do so slowly so you don't slide or splash yourself.
Additionally, be wary of ramps and inclines. Just because the path is clear doesn't mean that all wheelchairs can get a proper grip on the surface. Even the slightest snow fall can cause treacherous conditions on ramps, so always use caution and ask for help if needed. For your own ramps and walkways, consider heating ramp floors or adding non-slip mats. You can also paint on traction coatings, or use plenty of cat litter or table salt to break down ice. As for the snow, you want to avoid any deep snow, unless you include an attachment for your wheelchair like the Ottobock Wheelblades to decrease your changes of getting stuck.
Anything deeper than 1 1/2 inches, you risk getting stuck. Fortunately, if you're constantly on the go, there are some amazing options for you, such as the freewheel wheelchair attachment that can be installed on a folding or frigid wheelchair. This will lift your caster off the ground by placing a single wheel in the front, making mobility significantly easier during the winter months.
The temperature can drop in an instant, and since heat escapes from your head, hands and feet the quickest, you want to be able to stay warm wherever you may be. Always dress appropriately and have additional layers with you if needed. An extra hat and a pair of gloves and socks can easily be stored in most electric wheelchairs or motorized scooters or even in a bag in which you have easy access to. Put a blanket on for those days that are really chilly and enjoy the weather with warmth. You may also want to consider wrapping a blanket around your motorized wheelchair battery because they will lose 60% of their charge once the temperature reaches zero.
If you need further help preparing your power wheelchair, motorized scooter, vertical porch lift or other mobility equipment, MEDability is here to help.