These top wheelchair safety tips will help keep you safe and secure. Wheelchairs are used for many reasons, sometimes temporarily and other times permanently. No matter how long you plan to be in your chair it’s advised that you get comfortable with it, which includes learning how to safely do everything from picking up objects, to going out in the rain and even traveling.
Basic Wheelchair Safety Tips
- Always push your wheel brakes to lock before getting in and out of your chair.
- If you are transferring your electric wheelchair make sure the power is turned off. Leg rests and armrests should also be adjusted or lifted prior to transfer.
- Do not place anything heavy on the handlebars of your wheelchair. It may seem convenient but it can tip the entire chair over.
- Equip your chair with lights so that people can see you at night if you are out on the streets or in a parking lot.
- Never force your chair to go up or down slopes or staircases.
- Make sure your power wheelchair is programed to the speed you feel most comfortable at. This may require some trial and error, as everyone is different.
- Casters should be replaced on a regular basis. A clear indication that the casters on your chair need to be replaced is if you feel a jarring side-to-side motion when you travel at high speeds.
- Certain surfaces and weather conditions can increase your risk for wheelchair accidents. Avoid puddles and wet surfaces with an electric wheelchair, which can easily cause the chair to spin, tip or fall over. If you have no other option but to proceed through puddles, do so as slowly and carefully as possible.
- Puddles are just as dangerous as smooth surfaces with sand scattered on top. Always inspect flooring surfaces before rolling onwards.
- Have your wheelchair inspected and serviced before leaving on an extended trip.
Tips For Bending This Way And That In Your Wheelchair
Just because you’re in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you won’t be moving around. Sure, your legs might be pretty sedentary but you’ll still need to reach to grab for things, twisting and turning this way and that.
It’s important that you always keep your center of gravity, which can be especially tricky when you first start using your wheelchair. Casters can help you identify your prime position in the wheelchair, granting you the greatest balance, stability and overall comfort.
From the get-go start practicing reaching for different things to the left and right, as well as above and below. As you do so, you will notice your weight distribution changing in the chair. It’s advised to practice this and get comfortable with it while someone else is nearby to help. This allows you to comfortably go about life reaching for whatever you need in the future, even if you don’t have someone nearby to help.
Reaching Behind You: If you need to bend backwards to reach something try aiming your wheelchair as close as possible to your desired object. You can use the casters to your advantage by extending them away so that the drive wheels move to create a long wheelbase. Work to extend your arm back behind you without adjusting the position you are sitting in.
Bending Forward: You shouldn’t reach for anything that requires you to move to the edge of your wheelchair in order to grasp it. This is asking for trouble and can easily send you falling out of your wheelchair and potentially re-harming yourself. Instead, adjust your wheelchair as needed, point the extended casters away from the drive wheels, and engage the locks on the wheels. Then, you can safely reach forward for something.
Tips To Prevent Falling Out Of Your Wheelchair
No one wants to fall out of his or her wheelchair. Falling from your chair is uncomfortable, may require assistance to get back in and could re-injure you, not to mention you may find it embarrassing if it occurs in a public place. By following these tips you can greatly reduce your risk of falling out of your chair.
- Never lean too far forward in your wheelchair, you don’t want the wheels to ever tip upwards.
- Always lock your wheel brakes when getting in and out of the chair.
- As explained above, avoid overreaching for an object, or taking extreme measures to reach something—such as moving to the very front edge of your chair.
- Check to make sure the footrests are not in your way so that you don’t trip.
- Never sit too far forward in the wheelchair, even if you are not reaching for something.