In the United States, about 3.3% of wheelchair users have a serious wheelchair-related accident each year. While wheelchairs are an essential mobility tool for many, there are also some dangers associated with using a wheelchair.
Learning more about wheelchair safety is essential when you or a loved one uses a wheelchair.
Improve Your Wheelchair Maintenance
One of the most important wheelchair safety tips you should follow is to improve your wheelchair maintenance. While you may think that you only need to maintain your wheelchair when it needs a repair, regular servicing can keep your wheelchair in pristine condition.
Without regular servicing, you may experience more frequent wheelchair malfunctions that require expensive repairs.
It is best to work with a professional power wheelchair provider to maintain and service your mobility devices.
Practice Maneuvering Your Chair
It is essential that you learn how to maneuver your chair properly. Even if you don’t exclusively use your chair, you can practice maneuvering in your chair so that you feel confident using it when you have no other options.
For example, you should practice moving your wheelchair backward. In many situations, you may need to change direction in your wheelchair. For example, it is often safer to go over a small obstacle with the large wheels on the back of your chair.
Practicing this movement will help you stay safe when these situations arise.
Regularly practicing your movements in your wheelchair can also help you better understand your center of gravity. This way, you will be more comfortable during a wheelchair transfer or when you have to lean to reach other objects.
Understanding your center of gravity can help you keep your chair balanced and prevent it from tipping over.
Use Your Wheelchair Locks
Wheelchair locks are an essential part of wheelchair safety. They can protect you as you are transferring in and out of your wheelchair and even as you are reaching for other objects. Your wheelchair locks will keep your wheelchair balanced even as your weight is being redistributed.
If you don’t use your wheelchair locks, you may find that it is easier for your chair to move backward, resulting in a fall.
Similarly, you should always turn off the power of your power wheelchair before you transfer. Not only will this keep your battery charged, but it will keep people from accidentally bumping the joystick as you are getting in or out of your wheelchair.
Know Your Own Limitations
As a wheelchair user, one of the best ways to can improve your safety is by understanding your own limitations.
For example, you may not be able to handle a power wheelchair at a high speed. In these situations, you can program your power wheelchair to stay at a speed that you are more comfortable with.
You may also see people using their wheelchairs on a ramp, curb, or another uneven surface. However, everyone has different physical capabilities and limitations. Make sure you know what you are comfortable with when using your wheelchair.
Avoid Heavy Loads
When you have a power wheelchair, it may be tempting to use it to transport other belongings that you could not move on your own. However, it is important that you never add too much weight to your wheelchair.
If you have heavy loads on the back of your chair, this can greatly increase the risk of tipping over. Plus, most wheelchairs have a maximum weight that is allowed on the chair.
Unless you have a chair customized to support more weight, you should never add more weight to your wheelchair.
Do Not Stand on Footplates
Most wheelchairs have footplates or footrests that make it more comfortable to sit in your chair. However, these footplates are not meant to bear any weight. If you try to stand on these plates when getting into or out of your wheelchair, it can potentially tip forward and result in an accident.
To prevent this, you should always fold up the footrests on your wheelchair if you are getting into or out of your wheelchair.
Avoid Large Inclines and Slopes
Step inclines and slopes can also result in many wheelchair accidents. Whether it is a ramp that is too steep or a large hill, this can make it easy for you to lose control of your wheelchair.
Avoiding these all together can help you prevent tipping over in your wheelchair.
Avoid Riding in Poor Weather
You should also avoid using your wheelchair in poor weather.
For example, using your power wheelchair in the rain or other types of weather may cause damage to your joystick and other electrical components of your wheelchair.
Plus, bad weather may cause surfaces to become slick and can make it more difficult for your wheelchair to grip the road. Using your wheelchair outside only in good weather can help you maintain its proper function and avoid unnecessary accidents.
Finally, you can reduce your risk of accidents in your wheelchair simply by being attentive! Carefully observing your surroundings can help you ensure that you can safely operate your wheelchair and can help you identify dangerous situations before they lead to an accident.
Make sure you always check for obstacles in the way of your wheelchair and other things that could lead to problems when operating your wheelchair.
Learn More About Wheelchair Safety Tips Today
When you or your loved one uses a wheelchair, there are many potential dangers that you must be aware of. Learning more about these safety tips for wheelchair users is essential for wheelchair safety!
If you want other wheelchair safety tips for caregivers, Freedom Mobility Center can help! We provide complex power wheelchairs and can help you learn to use your mobility devices safely.
Contact us today to learn more wheelchair safety tips and to get help maintaining your power wheelchair.