How to Deal with Winter on Wheelchair?

Mobility issues are more prevalent in winters. The unpredictable mental and physical stress can be exhausting and impact your decision while getting winter ready in a wheelchair. There are numerous issues. You cannot control nature. You have to adapt, prepare yourself & your wheelchair for the season. Not only for the outdoors but also indoors.

In an attempt to arrive at a practical approach, here are some tips you should consider while using a wheelchair in winter:

Lubricate the Bearings

Wheelchair Bearing Maintenance in Winter

You may often encounter this situation when rear wheels become hard to slide due to wheel bearing issues. It may take hours to get fixed. If you try too hard, then there are chances of falling and getting injured. So try everything with utmost caution. There’s a hack to fix these axles. You should keep a silicone spray with you and sprinkle the stuck axles to release. Or adding a spraying a small amount of silicone and wiping it off with any old rag can offer you the same result. Do one which works best for you. Some seconds of maintenance can save you hours.

Increase Your Grips on Wheelchair & Ground Surfaces

Increase your surface traction with wheelchair and ground surfaces

Build points to make the ramps at home less-slippery. If you live in an area with the possibility of snowfall, increase the surface area of wheelchair wheels. The top winter safety tip for people in a wheelchair to get wider wheels is to leave a little bit of air out from your tires. Thus providing more surface contact and smooth traction on a slippery road. Your wheels will also get wet, so keep a good pair of gloves for having a firmer grip with the comfort of warmth. Consider buying suitable non-slip gloves that have non-skid material on the inside for better grip.

Even if you live in an area that won’t see any snowfall during winter, the chances are that it will get frigid enough for you to make sure you have reasonable control over your wheelchair.

Cover Yourself Well, Add More Layers

Cover Yourself Well and Add Layers to Stay Warm

Winter and metal never fit together. The problem is your wheelchair consists of metal; stainless steel or mild steel, or aluminum. During winter, the wheelchair gets cold due to the metal. Your feet and hands are going to be in contact with the metal parts of the wheelchair. It could be the wheelchair push rims, footplates, the footrest, etc. Your feet are always on the footrest for better comfort. While getting winter ready in a wheelchair, it would be best if you cover your feet with thick and water-resistant socks. You can also add soft knit gloves to the handles.

Having a fleece cover would be helpful to avoid direct contact with the metal. Buy suitable winter gloves and keep wearing them even if you are indoor. Winters favor more to the numbers. Get a decent outfit and dress in layers. Putting on featherlight clothes in layers does wonders. The air trapped in between the dresses works as an insulator. Go for lightweight, loose, and warmer apparel. Remember to discard cotton; even if it gets wet, it stays the same for a long time. It won’t be superfluous to say that damp cotton clothes may cause hyperthermia. That’s why try to wear clothes that assimilate less water and dry asap.

Don’t Leave Skin to Air Dry

Don't Leave the Skin Damp and wait for Air Dry

I know you won’t wear wet clothes. These are just words to the wise — if you take a shower, shampoo your hair, make sure your towel is as handy as possible, dry out yourself properly. Otherwise, there are chances of suffering from a common cold or fever and falling ill. You can keep a mini towel for emergencies. For timely handwashes, make sure to wipe your hands properly, and don’t forget to dry out skin between the fingers before wearing gloves. The same applies to your feet, neck, and ears. Also, Make sure the hygiene area is cleaned & dried out correctly.

Little things do matter. Prevention is always better than cure. You can also refer to How are People on Wheelchairs Supposed to Shower? for more details.

Embrace Fresh Food, Fresher Skin

Embrace Fresh & Warm Food

It’s essential to stay hydrated but avoid cold water in any circumstance. Habituate yourself for having a warm lunch and dinner. Drinking warm water would safeguard your throat from cough. Additionally, fresh and hot food and beverage have the potential to solve your irregular digestion affairs. The average man needs around 2,500 calories a day to maintain his body weight. The average woman needs approximately 2,000 calories a day. For a wheelchair user, you’ll likely need less than these guideline amounts. To maintain your healthy diet, aim to eat at least five different portions of fruit and veg every day. Have plenty of starchy foods, such as roti, brown bread, whole grain pasta, rice items, corn, potatoes & other roots. Some milk and dairy products should be on your list, and lastly, sources of protein meat, fish, eggs, beans, and other non-dairy items.

Also, skin-fragmentation is so common in winters. It is pretty much tempting to go for long hot showers when the temperature is dipping but it also makes your skin dry. Cold cream or lotion would release you free by replacing the dried, rough, and whitened skin with your natural soft skin. As a precautionary measure check your bottom and the surrounding area for any developing sores regularly. It would help if you avoided Soap with high pH levels; You should also avoid skin agents with alcohol & antibacterial or antimicrobial. If required, use a moisturizer that has been approved by the healthcare provider.

Keep the Skin Moist with Suitable Lotion

Having fresh food is right for your health, and a new layer of natural skin adds to your visual beauty. As they say, “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to come out in the cold.” Adding to that, you can also refer 7 Healthy Living Tips for Wheelchair for more detailed information.

Regular Maintenance Checks

You may be living around people with long hair. And you may have too. So, why am I talking about this? Because of your casters! There may be the case that hair gets stuck in the caster axles and wears out gradually. The fuzzy winters can render an issue out of nowhere. Follow these winter weather tips for wheelchairs and Clean it from time to time. Also, look for any front or rear wheel damage symptoms like cracks, tearing signs, big wheel spoke damages, loose nuts, etc. Ask for the service manager to maintain your wheels, casters, and tires. You can even set a reminder for monthly servicing, as you prefer.

Get the Gadgets: Batteries, Flashlight & Heaters

Keep Your Essential Gadgets Handy

Days are shorter in winters, so it gets dark earlier than usual. You have to be seen and be able to see. Get a clip-on flashlight fixed to your wheelchair for better visibility. You can also keep a small detachable flashlight in your mini pocket. If you are using an electric wheelchair or a power wheelchair, keep in mind that winters are tougher on the battery. Going through the ramps and inclines needs extra attention, and even the poor traction can hit your battery power. Ensure your wheelchair batteries are fully charged and try to travel not too far from home.

You may need to get a backup. It is also essential to keep yourself warm while following the winter weather wheelchair tips. Make sure to purchase a small portable handheld heater for winter days that you can place nearby when indoors and carry around with you while you go outdoors. It would be better to have its power source or work on a regular battery supply from power banks.

Spare Time to Be a Good Guest

Spare time to be a good guest

It is said to keep a plan for the rainy days. A good conversation always helps change the mood and thought process. Find activities going around you which have your interest in it and visit them. It could be either an open discussion forum, conference, book exhibition, book reading sessions, etc. If you have quite good knowledge on any topic, you could approach and ask to be a guest speaker at an event. Even you can plan a quick visit to one of your closed ones for a warm and delightful lunch or dinner.

While visiting someone’s house, let them know that your tires may leave tracks. You can keep a small towel with you to wipe the wheels while entering. If your journey includes car travel, check the brakes while you make a car transfer if they are appropriately locked or not so that the chair would not slip. It always takes more time than expected. Extra time, additional layers, and appropriate counts are all you need.

Keep Doors & Windows Properly Closed and

If you are in an attendant-mode wheelchair, there are chances when your caretaker is not with you. And he/she can’t be there for you 24X7. You have to handle some of the things by your side. To avoid any uncomforting situation while you are on your own, apply these winter weather wheelchair tips:

  • Make sure to have your doors and windows locked adequately at the end of their shift. It’ll save your room from getting colder.
  • The other thing to bear in mind is that if possible, cover the metal push-rim with some clothing material or remove them altogether. You can choose any material for covering except those materials that would stay wet for a longer duration. It’ll make the indoor maneuvering easy if you are not wearing gloves.
  • Make sure water heater/geyser switches are accessible to you directly or with any stick-like tool, and keep it handy if you require to use it.
  • Get a good blanket covering you up fully as the winter temperature drops at a minimum in the early morning when you are in your sound sleep.
  • Also, not to mention but cover yourself well while you prepare for bedtime.
  • Empty the bladder before bedtime so that it won’t bother you in the middle of the night.

Little things do matter. Prevention is always better than cure. You can also refer to How are People on Wheelchairs Supposed to Shower? for more details.

Make Your Winter Checklist

Last but not least, make your wheelchair safety checklist for winter, specifically yours, covering all the essentials that require to be in your backpack or emergency kit. I am not suggesting to overload your chair with an innumerable heap. Never do that. But having a mini pocket with small things can save you from unintended trouble. You can create your creative list by noticing your everyday needs.

Winter is Here

Winter is Here, Are You Ready?

Do follow these winter safety tips for wheelchair users and let me know which one worked out for you? Well, I can assure you that winter will be a more comfortable, safer, and happier season by following these tips. Be prepared and enjoy the season. Be with your family and friends. Go out without worrying much as everything will fall in its place. Take all the above precautions and welcome the freezy air.