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Winter Wheelchair Tips: 8 Tips for Managing Your Wheelchair in the Winter

Winter Wheelchair Tips: 8 Tips for Managing Your Wheelchair in the Winter

Winter can be a beautiful season, but it also creates unique challenges for wheelchair users. Ice, slush, snow, and cold can make wheelchair travel difficult even over short distances, but preparation can go a long way towards getting you to your destination in the winter weather. Read on for 8 tips on maintaining and moving your wheelchair this winter!


The Best Mobility, Assistive, and Ambulatory Devices Available at Mountainside Medical Equipment

1. Get Your Wheelchair Inspected

Difficult outdoor conditions can make a small mechanical issue into a major problem. Make sure you get your wheelchair inspected and adjusted before winter sets in, so that the frame is solid, connections are tight, and all parts are properly lubricated and function well. Check your caster axles for debris that can wear out your bearings, and make sure the tread on your tires hasn't worn down.

2. Get Your Wheelchair Ready for Winter

Winter conditions can be tough on the sturdiest wheelchairs, so make sure yours is prepared for cold, snow, and ice. Adjustments to look at include:
  • Lights: Clip-on flashlights for better visibility when night falls earlier; reflectors, headlamps, and taillights so that you can be seen more easily.
  • Winter tires: Wider tires with stronger treads for extra grip on snowy, icy ground.
  • Lubricated axles: Use silicone spray on your chair's axles so that they don't get stuck, making them difficult to remove during transport.
  • Cover your joystick: A moisture-resistant joystick cover to protect the delicate electronics of your power wheelchair. Make sure it's transparent for better visibility of your controls.
  • Keep your battery charged: Cold weather and poor road conditions can drain the battery on a power wheelchair more quickly than usual. Make sure you charge yours completely before leaving your house.

3. Store Your Wheelchair Properly

When not in use, make sure your chair is being stored in a warm, dry spot indoors, rather than an unheated garage, carport, or similar. Use a dry cloth to wipe off your chair after using it outdoors, to remove any ice, snow, or salt that could rust or damage it.

4. Dress Warmly

 If you're going to be outside, especially for extended periods of time, make sure you're dressed appropriately. Be careful when covering any areas of your body that have impaired sensation. Some options:

  • Wear warm clothing in multiple layers so that you can adjust to the temperature.
  • A water-resistant top layer of clothing. Consider a poncho made to keep yourself and your chair dry.
  • Extra socks and boots on hand in case water soaks through your first pair of either.
  • Heavy, waterproof gloves if you're pushing yourself in a manual wheelchair.
  • A warm hat.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, which can still be damaging in winter.

5. Additional Gear and Precautions

Clothing isn't all you need when outside in the winter. Make a list of additional gear you might need and precautions you might need to take when going out. These could include:

  • Charging your phone before leaving the house, and carrying a portable charger for longer trips.
  • Sun protection.
  • Lights for your own visibility.
  • Lights and even a reflective vest so that others can see you.
  • An insulated bottle of water.
  • A high-energy snack.
  • A bag with extra medications, if necessary.

6. Clear Your Pathways

Make sure your ramps, walkways, sidewalks, and driveway are clear of ice and snow, even if you have to get someone's help. Wheelchairs usually require around 36 inches or more of clearance, and all pathways should be cleared in ways that they won't refreeze. Snow mats for paths and grip tape for ramps will help with traction.

7. Travel with Others and Explain Travel Plans

Moving through snow and ice with your chair can be quite different than normal travel. You may want to travel with a friend or family member who can help you in the worst conditions. In situations where solo travel is possible, let people know your travel plans -- when you're leaving and expect to arrive, where you're going -- in case you're delayed by weather conditions.

 The Best Mobility, Assistive, and Ambulatory Devices Available at Mountainside Medical Equipment

8. Visit Mountainside Medical Equipment for Wholesale Medical Supplies Available at the Best Prices

Have you been to our storefront? Mountainside Medical Equipment offers wholesale medical supplies on a cash & carry basis. Get top brands for the highest quality assistive and mobility devices at the lowest prices right here!

Mountainside Medical Equipment’s storefront is located at 9266 Old River Road, Marcy, New York 13403. It’s open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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