wheelchair safety tips
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Wheelchair Safety Tips

As society ages and people grow older the use of wheelchairs has seen a significant rise. These  wheelchairs are being utilized by these set of people for diverse reasons. The wheelchair, which is a common and safe mobility device is meant to provide comfort, and  independence to its users, including the ability to enjoy life to the fullest. Using this device may seem to be easy but there exist certain dicey scenarios that you need to be careful of for wheelchair safety.

  Nevertheless, there are several wheelchair safety tips you’ll need to adhere to in order to ensure that you use your wheelchair to its fullest capabilities without risking your safety. Below are some useful wheelchair safety tips to assist you prevent accidents, falls, and any other predicament that may arise from the use of a wheelchair.

Seating Position

  As a wheelchair user, it is paramount that you are conversant with your center of gravity as this is beneficial to your safety on that wheelchair of yours.

   Several activities need the wheelchair user to reach, bend, and transfer in and out of the wheelchair. These various movements which alters the position of the wheelchair user will result in a change of your centre of gravity, and the weight distribution of the wheelchair.

   When leaning, reaching, bending forward or sideways, it is crucial to utilize the caster as a tool to keep balance and stability. Discovering your ideal sitting position is important to your safety when making use of a wheelchair. When you start using a wheelchair you’ll need the help of the casters to maintain your stability and balance. Practicing a variety of activities like reaching, bending, and moving in and out of your wheelchair will help you get used to these activities which is important to your safety.

Reaching behind you

   If you need to bend backwards to get something, try to position your wheelchair as close as possible to whatever you want to get. You can also make use of the casters by extending them away so that the drive wheels move to make a lengthy wheelbase. Work towards being able to extend your arm backwards without altering your sitting position. Do not attempt to bend your wheelchair backwards, as this may result in the wheelchair tilting and you falling as a result.

Reaching forward

  Pay huge attention to this. Firstly, you should always bear in mind that trying to pick up something by reaching between your knees can lead to you tipping forward. This is quite risky. Instead of making such a move, you should position the casters and extend them away from the drive wheels then employ the wheel locks before leaning forward to grab the object.

Tipping the wheelchair

   You will always require the help of an assistant when utilizing a manual wheelchair. Ensure that whosoever is assisting you holds the back of the wheelchair, preferably on a non-removable part, while you are leaning backwards. It is also of great importance that your hands and feet are clear of the wheels including other pinch areas. Wheelchairs often come with anti-tip bars, so don’t ever think of removing these parts from the wheelchair as doing so will give a great effect on your safety. 

While getting in and out of your wheelchair.

   If it is a quality wheelchair, always remember to employ the brakes while getting in and out of the wheelchair. For the electrical model, you will need to kill the power while transferring. Don’t affix heavy things( for instance, bag) to the back or handle of the wheelchair as they may cause the wheelchair to tip back while moving. While transferring, the foot and the arm rests should be rightly adjusted so that they don’t get in the way.

On The Road Side

For curbs and ramps

    Some of the most dangerous roads to navigate on a wheelchair and curbs and ramps. It is always advisable to move through ramps and curbs with the help of another person. But, if you have no option than to do it alone, examine the ramp carefully for any sign of holes, obstacles or undulating and slippery surfaces. Apply the same safety measures for curbs as well. If you encounter any obstacle, proceed with caution and maneuver your wheelchair around the obstacle slowly. Before trying it on any sleep inclined or declines, attempt it while using the assistance of someone. It is best to be on the safe side and scrutinize your abilities and limitations beforehand in the presence of a caregiver. You can also use wheelchair gloves to prevent calluses and blisters when rolling the wheelchair. Another function of the gloves is to protect your hands from harsh weather.

For sandy and wet surfaces

   Navigating your wheelchairs through a sandy or wet surface can be very unsafe and hectic, particularly if you are using an electric powered wheelchair which moves very fast. You can handle the speed issues of this type of wheelchair by setting a speed limit. It is advisable not to take your wheelchair out during downpours, or after a downpour, doing so can cause your wheelchair to become unbalanced and spin out of control. Also, don’t underestimate Sandy surfaces. No matter the quantity of sand, it is capable of making the wheelchair lose traction which can cause you to topple over. Another important point to take note of is night movement. While moving at night in your wheelchair, attach a flag to your wheelchair or make provision for a flashing headlight and taillight to enable people see you in the dark and avoid possible accidents..

 In A Vehilce

 For a car

   There exist certain wheelchair safety tips to adhere to while inside a moving vehicle seated on your wheelchair. First, put a tie-down mechanism to secure your wheelchair to the floor of the car while making sure that the wheels of the wheelchair are locked. It is also advisable to make use of a wheelchair with a “transport safe” tag. This denotes that your wheelchair has undergone several crash tests and can withstand impacts of up to 30mph.

For an Airplane journey

   Have your wheelchair completely serviced before embarking on a plane journey. Search for airlines that stick by the air carrier access act and be sure to read up on the rules and regulations you need to follow while on the flight. Tell the security agents of your limitations prior your journey. Do away with all the excess leg rest including accessories before presenting your wheelchair to the airport staff. Also, remember that wheelchair occupants always leave the plane last so adjust your travel schedule accordingly.

Physical Wheelchair Items And Their Safety Precautions

Seat belts

   Sometimes regarded as positioning aids, or restraints, this important wheelchair item will ensure that you don’t fall out off your wheelchair accidentally. This item is also useful in ensuring that when you hit an obstacle and stop quickly or when you slowly slide out of the seat, your chances of injury will be minimal.

  As a positioning device, a wheelchair seat belt helps properly position your hips at the back of the seat. If your hips isn’t properly positioned on your wheelchair seat, you may become uncomfortable.

Seat cushion

  This item is crucial for several reasons. It affects your posture and support. The seat cushion on your wheelchair also protects you from developing pressure ulcers which occur as a result of prolonged pressure on the skin. Be sure to inspect your cushion for whatever that could cause it to malfunction. Holes, tears, or compressed regions can all compromise the design of the cushion wheel locks.

Wheel locks

   Wheel locks may seem like a basic wheelchair item, but it plays an important role in ensuring your safety. This item is used for locking your wheels. You should never use them as breaks or to slow down a chair in motion, because doing so may cause you to topple over. When you transfer, ensure that both wheels are locked. Also, ensure that they are fully locked, because failure to do so may result in your chair sliding.

Armrest and footrest 

   When outdoors, the sun can make the surface of your chair hot. Be careful before placing your skin against footrests or armrests that may have hot metals. Burns may occur quickly.

Hand Rims

   Provided your hand Rims protrude out a little from your wheels, they are always the first thing to bang into furniture and doorways. These bumps can cause jagged and rough regions on the metal. Frequently inspect your hand rims to ensure that they remain smooth. Any protruding piece have the tendency to cut your skin or cause abrasion.

Caster wheels

  Prior to transferring, inspect to ensure that your caster wheel are facing straightforward. If they aren’t, modify them until they are. Caster wheel that are turned sideways can make your chair slip, making you fall, and probably get injured.

The frame

  If there are any screws and bolts that keep your frame together, make sure they are not unfastened. If there are screws at the back of your frame, they are very likely to come loose from either you leaning back against your backrest, or other people pushing the back of your chair. Loose or missing screws can make the back wobbling and shaky. At worse, this is not safe, at best, it is pretty bad for your posture.

Tyre

   Just as you inspect the tyres of your car, it is important that you do likewise to the tyres of your wheelchairs. Just like any vehicle, a wheelchair can also get flat, leaving you frustrated and stranded. Ensure that your tyres are filled with an adequate amount of air, and that the tread is not too worn. When the thread wears down, your tyres will become slick. Worn down tyres can make your brakes slip. Also, during inspection, ensure that your tyres are properly fastened on. If you detached your tyres for storage, ensure that you put them back before making use of the chair again. The tyres of your wheelchair may appear to be firm, when they haven’t really been pushed all the way in.

Safety Tips

1) Secure the brakes of the wheels always when getting off the chair or when idle.

2) Always try to avoid wet, rough and muddy paths if you can’t try to go past it or around it.

3) Don’t force your way through sloppy pathways, stairways, and inclines.

4) Adjust the armrest and footrest properly before getting in or up from the wheelchair.

5) Don’t place heavy items on the wheelchair, particularly in the back storage unit. This may make the wheelchair lose control and topple over.

6) The casters of the wheelchair may loose position after prolonged usage. Inspect them on a regular basis and replace them when the need arises.

7) Install tail lights and flags, including reflective mirrors so the wheelchair is obvious at night. This can be quite helpful when crossing a highway at night.

8) Always make use of your seatbelt

Service And Maintenance

   Aside adhering to the wheelchair safety tips stated above, it is paramount that you maintain your wheelchair for optimal function and safety. It is advisable that you service it at least twice a year or more, depending on how you use it.

   A very popular issue with electric wheelchairs is caster flutter, which is the sideways movement of the caster while on high-speed. If you observe any hint of flutter, change the caster immediately. Properly lubricate the wheels to ensure that they lock and unlock with ease. 

   Also, frequently inspect the brakes to ensure that they aren’t loose and won’t pull on an incline. If you discover that your wheelchair is squeaky or the wheels are sticky to the floor, it is best to take the wheelchair for check-up and get the damaged parts replaced. Frequently replaced parts are seats and backrest cushions, the front and rear wheel assembly, armrest and leg guards. In the case of power wheelchairs, the batteries have a specific life cycle therefore it is best you replace them frequently.

   By meticulously adhering to the following guide on wheelchair safety tips, your safety while using that wheelchair of yours is ensured. While purchasing the ideal wheelchair for your needs is crucial, being aware of its proper use and its safety guidelines will ensure that you have an enjoyable ride.

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