Winter Wheelchair Safety

Winter Safety Tips for Your Wheelchair

If you are anything like me, as soon as the cold weather hits and the snow falls, you’re ready to curl up under a blanket with your Kindle and not come out until spring.  Unfortunately, life must go on – work, spouses, kids, etc. demand we keep moving.  Here are a few safety tips and some ideas that may make the snow and winter a little easier to handle.

Don’t attempt to go through any snow that is deeper than 1-1/2 inches (especially if it is wet snow and not the fluffy stuff). Whether you use a manual chair or a power chair, you will get stuck.

  • Make sure your power wheelchair batteries are charged. Batteries lose 60% of their charge when temperatures reach 0 degrees.
  • Wipe down all surfaces of your chair. This prevents rusting.
  • Keep ramps and walkways clear. Try using:
    • Table salt (Rock salt may be slippery.)
    • Cat litter
    • Spray on traction
    • Non-skid tread plates
  • If you drive a minivan, remember the floor is lowered. You will have a harder time driving through deeper snow.
  • Wear warm clothing and have extra supplies with you in case you get stuck somewhere.
  • Don’t try to rush just because it’s cold. Even though it’s more fun to be out in warmer weather, be sure to be alert and stay safe. Don’t try to cut out steps when transferring into your car or van. It’s when we try to change our normal routine that we can end up making costly mistakes! (Thanks to Mark Chilutti for this one.)
  • On manual chairs, wider knobby tires will give you more traction in the snow. Changing back tires for more traction in snowy conditions will help. Front castors and foot plates can still dig in and get stuck.
  • Add Mini Ski’s in place of front casters.
  • Wire ties or chains can also be put on tires. Do not go indoors with chains on; they may scratch floors.
  • With FreeWheel, your wheelchair casters are lifted off the ground turning you into a 3-wheel all-terrain chair.
  • Action Trackchair lets you navigate any terrain! Over the mountains and through the woods…

As with anything, always be prepared.

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