Winter makes it difficult for anyone to get around, whether they’re walking through slush or driving on icy roads. However, for those who need to use a wheelchair, the difficulty of moving around is only worsened. Considering there are over two million new people who start wheelchairs each year in the United States alone, combating this limited mobility is a necessity.
Luckily, there are several ways to handle this, stay self-reliant, and keep your mobility despite the winter weather. Here are three of those ways:
Change Your Wheels
Throughout areas that experience harsh winters there are ads on TV for snow tires to put on your car. They work because the tread on snow tires is softer, making for better control and traction on cold, wet surfaces. The same is true for your wheelchair wheels. On a cold or icy surface, it is incredibly easy to lose traction, which makes for more energy spent getting to places and at times difficulty braking.
To avoid these difficulties, consider changing your wheelchair tires to something more capable of gripping pavement in winter weather. Not only is it a safer option, but it will make life easier for you.
Make Sure You’re Visible
The amount of daylight hours during the winter is dramatically cut down. This makes for unique challenges for everyone, especially those who get around using wheelchairs. By the fact that you’re in a sitting position, fewer people will be able to see you. Objects, such as parked cars, make it difficult for drivers to see you on a sunny day, let alone on a dark night.
Combat this by making yourself visible. Use reflective tape on the back of your chair, so cars see a reflection. If you don’t want reflective tape permanently on your wheelchair, there are always reflective vests. These can even be easily stowed in folding wheelchairs. You can also consider using lights, much like a bicycle, to not only make it easier for others to see you but to improve your own vision as well.
Make Sure You Have the Right Wheelchair to Fit Your Needs
As you already know, there are tons of wheelchairs on the market. Folding wheelchairs are great for anyone who wants to easily store their chair. For others, an electric wheelchair makes it easier to get around, because the user doesn’t have to put in as much effort. Regardless of which wheelchair you use, make sure that it not only fits your daily needs but is effective in winter weather.
For instance, bulky folding wheelchairs can offer issues in winter, when sidewalk space is limited. If someone hasn’t properly cleared their walkway, you either won’t be able to get through or may need to go into the road. Issues like this, which can limit your mobility, exist no matter what type of wheelchair you have. It’s best to be aware of them before bad weather strikes, so you can combat it most efficiently.
There are many challenges to dealing with wheelchairs in the wintertime, and they vary, depending on what type of wheelchair you have, from electric or folding wheelchairs. However, that shouldn’t mean that anyone who relies on a wheelchair should lose out on an active lifestyle or simply being able to access the same things as other people. Instead, be prepared and aware of the challenges you’ll face, and you won’t let winter control your lifestyle.