How to use Wheelchairs in Winter

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Wheelchair users often struggle to achieve the mobility they want to in the winter months because ice and snow can seriously hinder their movements. Slippery conditions can be dangerous for wheelchair wheels, particularly in the models that feature small front wheels as these can sink into ice and snow easily and the wheelchair can lose control.

In the cold temperatures, wheelchair users suffer from their extremities not warming up if they venture out. It is all too easy to become stranded in cold weather.

4 wheel drive wheelchairs can venture through the snow, but these chairs are highly expensive. Most users have other models that are not as equipped for the icy weather. In wet snow, you should not venture into these conditions if the snow is deeper than around one and a half inches, because you risk getting stuck.

Dress appropriately for winder conditions, in thin layers of clothing which act as superior insulators to thick layers that restrict your movement and therefore slow you down.

How to protect yourself and your wheelchair in winter

Try to cover your face and head as much as possible, as we lose most of our body heat through our heads.

Wear gloves at all times to keep your hands warm, and to avoid getting salt or sand on your hands from the pavement/road.

Make sure you carry a mobile phone on you, in case you become stranded and need help.

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The most effective wheelchairs to tackle the more extreme winter weather are the all terrain models. However, if you do not have one of these, using pneumatic tires on your wheelchair will be more effective as they contain air. Rear wheel drive models tend to operate better in winter conditions.

Power chairs can struggle in the snow, but a power wheelchair with larger wheels that is described as being suitable for rugged terrain should be able to cope with winter conditions, as it is used to operating over a variety of surfaces.

Make sure ramps remain clear of ice and snow, or sprinkle them with salt or sand to give you better traction when using them.

Wheelchair adapted vehicles are a popular option, and are particularly useful in the winter months as they allow you to still travel out and about carefully in ice and light snow. There are many suppliers of these vehicles, offering new and used quality cars to people with mobility needs.

Image Courtesy: photos.oregonlive.com, assistive-tech.com