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3 Winter Wheelchair Safety Tips

Unfortunately, summertime is almost up. This Monday, September 23rd, the fall season will begin. And that has a lot of people across the country already thinking about the winter.

While many Canadians enjoy the winter for the opportunities to engage in winter sports and other activities such as skiing, skating and snowboarding, many others dread the extreme cold and inevitable snowfall. Included among those individuals are wheelchair users. Needless to say, it isn’t exactly easy to traverse through wintery weather conditions in a wheelchair. Therefore, extra precaution, during the winter, is necessary.

Here are three winter wheelchair tips:

1. Never go out alone.

Better safe than sorry – this, quite evidently, will be the underlying theme of every tip offered in this week’s blog. This is why you may want to make sure you always have someone accompany you when going outdoors in your wheelchair this winter. Getting the wheels of your wheelchair caught in snow is certainly a scenario you’d like to avoid, especially if you’re all by yourself. So, as Roland Reznik of KD Smart Chair suggests, adopt a buddy system!

“Keep a buddy with you during the winter months,” he encourages, “Becoming snowed in can add stress to anyone’s life. If you are concerned that you will be home alone during a severe snow storm, ask a friend or family member to come ride out the storm at your place. This will allow you to remain in the comfort of your own home and have an extra set of hands to help build a fire in case the electricity goes out.”

2. Protect the wheelchair from the elements.

You’re not the only one who needs to be protected from the extreme cold, snow and slush. Your wheelchair can traverse through a lot of rough terrain and therefore endures a similar type of wear and tear as a car. But, unlike a car, a wheelchair’s elements are exposed. As Ziggi Landsman of the United Spinal Association points out, as an example, it’s important to protect your wheelchair’s joystick.

“If your wheelchair controller (joystick) is not waterproof (and many are not), cover it with a joystick cover or a plastic bag,” he advises, “If you’re out while it’s snowing, and water from melting snow or ice finds its way into your controller, you’re going to be in a real bind.”

3. Do your best to stay warm.

Naturally, this is a winter weather tip for everyone to follow. But it’s especially important if you’re a wheelchair user. While braving the cold, you don’t necessarily have the option of keeping your body in motion to generate heat. As well, because your hands are needed to move your wheelchair – whether it’s manual or electric – you’ll need to ensure you have comfortable and warm gloves. Freezing your hands in an effort to manipulate the movements of your wheelchair isn’t worth it.

“Since heat escapes from the hands, feet and head the quickest, it is wise to make sure these parts of you are always warm,” explains Reznik, “Keep an extra hat, set of gloves and pair of socks with you at all times. It’s best to keep these items in a bag that is easily accessible. In addition, it is wise to layer your clothing. This will allow you to feel comfortable all day long.”

For more information about the wheelchairs offered by Advantage Home Health Solutions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!

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