The world doesn’t always seem designed with wheelchair users in mind.
Steps, steep curbs, broken sidewalks. Any one of these things can be a problem. Taken together, they can make even a simple errand a giant headache. We’ve got you covered when it comes to stair lifts and vertical lifts for wheelchairs, but there are many other challenges that you will need to overcome this season.
Things get even worse when winter arrives, with snow and icy sidewalks making conditions even more challenging – if not dangerous for people using wheel chairs and their caregivers. With that in mind, we’d like to offer a few winter tips for wheelchair users.
1. Put together a survival kit
Make sure you have essential items with you during the winter, whether you’re snowbound at home or out on the road. Keep water, food, matches, blankets, a flashlight and flares in your car. Make sure your cell phone and wheel chair batteries – assuming you use a motorized chair – are fully charged. Bring portable chargers with you on the road if possible.
2. Keep your sidewalks clear
Having a clear pathway in and out of your home is vital to staying safe and mobile in the winter. We recognize that this isn’t easy for all wheelchair users, so you may need to hire a service or enlist a neighbor.
3. Put snow tires on your car…and your chair
If you drive a car, make sure it’s ready to handle winter road conditions. Have snow tires installed, and make sure it’s in proper working order. And snow tires aren’t just for your car. You can have them installed on your chair for better traction on icy or snowy surfaces.
4. Use the buddy system
Don’t try to ride out a storm on your own. Get a family member or friend to stay with you. They can help you if the electricity runs out and handle errands on impassible sidewalks. And if you can’t recruit someone to stay with you, try to check in with friends and loved ones throughout the storm.
5. Keep warm
Bundle up when you go out. Wear layered clothing, which will allow you to stay warm and still feel comfortable. Have a hat, gloves and extra pair of socks with you in an easily-accessible and waterproof bag. If you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, you may want to bring a blanket.
6. Make sure you have a back-up power source
If you use an electric wheelchair, or use medical equipment that runs on electricity, make sure you have a secondary power source – like an emergency generator – to keep things running during a blackout.
7. Keep your prescriptions filled
Winter weather can make driving and walking hazardous and keep you indoors for days at a time. It’s important to make sure your prescriptions are filled in advance of any big storm.
8. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen
These may seem like summertime tips, but they’re important during cold weather as well. Cold can set in more easily when we’re dehydrated. And the sun’s reflection off the snow can lead to sunburn, so a layer of sunscreen can help.
If you’re looking for other ways to make your world more accessible, Pennsylvania Stair Lifts can help. We can work with you to make an informed decision about installing, repairing, and customizing a stair lift or vertical lifts for wheelchairs in your home, so you can have the freedom to move around, no matter the season.