Winter is here! In many places across the country, this means snow is coming any day now (if it hasn’t already). Getting around in your wheelchair safely requires extra caution during these months. Rain, ice and snow create hazards for wheelchair users and wheelchair van drivers.
If you or a loved one use a wheelchair, consider the following tips and suggestions:
Tip #1: Install snow tires on your wheelchair (or make your own)
If you live in an area that experiences icy and snowy winters, installing snow tires on your car may seem like a no-brainer. But what about your wheelchair van and your wheelchair? Snow tires for your wheelchair are easy to install and relatively inexpensive. They’re well worth the money and time in lieu of a sliding or getting stuck.
If purchasing snow tires isn’t in your budget, you can easily DIY. Start by purchasing some nylon or plastic ties. Attach them to your tire several inches apart with the clip in the back. Cut off the excess portion of the tie.
Tip #2: Create an emergency kit
A small, lightweight emergency kit is always a good idea to have on hand. Pack the kit in a backpack or sack. Be sure to pack some extra socks, batteries for your wheelchair, cell phone/cell phone charger, bottled water, blanket, and maybe a snack. Even if you never need anything from your kit, you can feel better knowing you’re prepared in the event of an emergency.
Tip #3: Give your chair a tune-up
Wheelchairs should undergo a yearly inspection. Plan on scheduling a tune-up with your technician once per year to make sure your wheelchair is in tip-top shape going into the winter months. Make sure the wheels are in order and, if your wheelchair is powered, that your joystick is properly working.
Tip #4: Remain visible
A snow-covered landscape is breathtaking, but also makes people more difficult to see. Adding reflectors to your chair and maybe even wearing a headlamp at night could help people in cars see you better during a winter whiteout. Taillights and headlights for bicycles can be attached to your wheelchair spokes for additional reflection.
Tip #5: Dress warmly
Layers, layer, layer! Make sure you’re adequately dressed for dropping temperatures. Wind chill can create even cooler-than-expected weather. Remember that sitting can affect your circulation and make it even more challenging to regulate your temperature. Also, keep your feet warm and dry with thick socks, hats, gloves and even a blanket.
Tip #6: Don’t forget sunscreen/moisturizer
The sun’s rays mirroring off the snow can create an extremely bright reflection. Make sure you have properly applied sunscreen and moisturizer to your face and other exposed areas prior to leaving your house. Sunglasses also aren’t a bad idea.
Tip #7: Bring a backup battery
In the cold weather, your wheelchair battery may lose its charge quicker. Having a backup battery, fully charged and ready to go can’t.
Tip #8: Invest in a seat warmer
Portable seat warmers are a great idea if you plan on sitting in your wheelchair for several hours in cold weather. A seat warmer can be heated up easily and keep you toasty for up to 2 hours. Disposable seat warmers can be used as well. If you plan on frequently being in your wheelchair in the cold, consider adding a wool cover.
Tip #9. Take a friend
Remember the buddy system in grade school? In the snow and ice, it’s never a bad idea to bring a friend along with you on errands. Unfortunately, sidewalks aren’t always routinely cleared. Having a friend nearby who can come to your aid and help out isn’t just a safer option, it can also be more fun!
Winter time is beautiful. But don’t let yourself get caught in a sticky situation due to weather!
Are you searching for a wheelchair van? Classic Vans is California’s largest dealer of new and used wheelchair minivans and full-sized mobility vans. For thirty years, we’ve been the Bay Area’s premier dealer of new and used conversion vans, class B motorhomes and more. Contact or visit us to find the van of your dreams today!