Winter Weather Wheelchair Tips
It’s that time of year again, the temperature is dropping, leaves are falling off the trees and there is a cold chill in the air.
In the UK, the winter weather is very predictable, the days are short, and the nights are long, temperatures drop and range between 0 to 7C. Some days will be sunny, but nevertheless, they will be cold.
Compared to places like Scotland, England doesn’t snow as much. But in recent years, England has seen more snowfall, causing schools to shut and roads to come to a standstill because most of the UK simply isn’t equipped to deal with the danger that snow can bring.
For wheelchair users in particular, the colder winter months can be particularly dangerous. With pavements becoming victim to ice or slippery leaves, and it becomes commons for the wheels of a wheelchair to lose grip of the ground.
The cold winter air is known to reduce mobility, and for those in a wheelchair who have a spinal cord injury or a neurological condition, temperature regulation of the body can be impacted. In freezing conditions, it will become difficult for them to retain a safe and optimum body temperature as their bodies are unable to react accordingly to the cold weather. For example, they will not be able to shiver to increase body temperature and the lack of sensation will affect their ability to know if they are cold at all.
Fenetic Wellbeing has created this winter weather wheelchair tips guide, if you use a wheelchair everyday or just sometimes, this guide will take you through everything you need to know to ensure you are safe and secure on your Fenetic wheelchair this winter.
Wrap up warm
An obvious tip but an important one. Wrapping up for the winter doesn’t just mean popping on a scarf and a hat and an extra layer, but it means making sure all areas of the body, from top to toe, are covered.
If you are dressed in layers upon layers of breathable clothing, then heat will be trapped, and you will be protected from the cold. Fenetic Wellbeing suggests purchasing a few thermal tops and a few thermal bottoms, this way you have enough to wear depending on how cold it is. Mountain warehouse have an extensive range of thermal base layers, from thermal roll necks to thermal round necks, getting a range of these options will ensure you are prepared for all eventualities.
As well as this, we recommend wearing some form of hi-visibility clothing or accessory. This is particularly important if the weather is dark and gloomy, creating poor visibility for other car users. Amazon provide a wide range of hi-visibility gear, including hi-visibility reflexive vests, hi-visibility reflective arm bands and ankles straps, and LED lighted beanie. For extra precaution, fitting your wheelchair wheels with LED bike lighting would be a good idea.
Gloves are another important piece of clothing for wheelchair users during the colder months. Without gloves, wheelchairs users will find navigating their wheelchair an uncomfortable experience. Hands will feel extremely cold, if this is the case mobility in the hands could become limited and wheelchair navigation will be hindered, meaning reactions to danger or obstacles will be delayed. Therefore, investing in a good pair of waterproof and durable gloves with be highly beneficial. These thermal gloves are an Amazon bestseller, designed with fabric that stays close to the skin for an insulated fit.
Improve wheelchair traction & tyre pressure
Whether you have an annual wheelchair or an electric wheelchair, making sure your wheels have suitable traction is important. To do this you can increase the tyre pressure, this will really help comfort, stability, grip levels and protect the rims of the wheels themselves, not to mention extend the life of the tyre. In winter, as temperatures drop, the air pressure in the tyre will drop, so it’s certainly worth checking tyre pressures as winter sets in as they’ll likely have dropped from summer pressures.
This bike pump and pressure gauge is a best seller on Amazon, with a 4 star rating this kit is a winter essential for wheelchair users.
Getting an electric powered wheelchair would work well for a user in the winter. For example, Fenetic Wellbeing’s I-Go folding electric wheelchair is designed to be suitable for bumpy terrain and travel, making it the perfect travel companion in the winter months.
Wheelchair controls become difficult to grip when wet, so covering your controls with a small bag or alternatively, covering the whole wheelchair poncho will ensure you and your wheelchair are both kept dry. Wheelchair ponchos are a great way to keep warm too.
When its cold outside its very easy to keep still and hope that you will warm up. But its better to keep active and mobile. Keeping circulation moving when outside in the cold is essential, to do this, avoid taking journeys where you might be required to stop for a break. If you do need to take a break it could be a good idea to find somewhere inside, such as a café.
Charge your wheelchair
Sometimes colder weather can cause wheelchair batteries to drain quicker, this is especially true if the terrain you are cruising on is tougher, which means the wheelchair is working even harder to carry the load of the user whilst using energy to get through difficult terrain. So, make sure your batteries are fully charged before going out, and make sure you don’t travel too far from home.
As mentioned above, there are many dangers that could arise from using a wheelchair in the winter. Therefore, its important that you take a phone out with you and have important numbers saved in case of emergencies. Like an electric wheelchair, make sure your phone is charged, and in case, carry a portable charger with you.
As the weather in the UK brings lots of rain, getting a waterproof phone case could be a good idea. This way you can be sure that your phone is unlikely to get damaged, and if you need to contact anyone you can.
If you are a new wheelchair user and you are in the market for a winter weatherproof wheelchair get in touch with Fenetic Wellbeing. The specialists here will be able to advise you on the wheelchair best for you. Alternatively, check out our informative guide on buying a wheelchair.