Welcome back to another Mobility Monday folks!
This past week, a few areas of the UK got their first snow. Some of my friends in Scotland experienced thundersnow (which sounds both terrifying and amazing!), others a light, settled dusting of the white stuff for the school run.
Down here in London it was typically grey and soggy. No snow for us yet but if the past few years are anything to go by, we will get something before spring returns to warm our hearts.
I have not experienced snow in my Lith-Tech wheelchair yet but I have experienced it in my NHS ‘chair in the past. It can be an intimidating and scary experience, hugely dependent on where you live too but it’s something that most wheelchair users will have to face at some point in their lives.
Here are a few tips I’ve collected for dealing with sleet and snow as a wheelchair user:
Wear gloves: This is a must for those using self-propelled wheelchairs but electric wheelchair users can still benefit greatly from wearing gloves in the coldest weather. A great tip is to wear plastic gloves underneath wool gloves when it’s snowing, to help protect your hands from getting soaked through the porous material. Having to operate wheels or a driving stick with freezing and soaked fingers is a horrible feeling.
Cover your control panel: Lith-Tech wheelchairs come with a handy little plastic cover for your control panel but if your wheelchair doesn’t have this, bring along something to protect it when out in rain, sleet or snow. A bubble wrap bag, plastic bag or anything similar will do, just to cover your hand and the controls to keep them extra dry.
Be battery aware: Batteries can be affected by temperature. My Smart Chair 1XL has awesome batteries but even lithium batteries can be affected by severe changes in temperature. Make sure you’re fully charged before venturing out and that you understand how your wheelchair works. Keep a closer eye on your battery whilst you’re out and always have someone you can contact in case of a battery emergency.
Experiment with direction: Wheelchairs all handle differently. Be aware of how your ‘chair performs on slopes and uneven surfaces and remember when those surfaces are covered in slippery snow and ice that it might be a little different. Take your time to work out how to manoeuvre when needed, you may find it easier taking some kerbs or ramps backwards to help with power and grip.
Have help: If you can, have somebody with you if you need to venture out in sleet or snow. We can be the most careful and prepared people but accidents can and do happen. If you have somebody with you whilst out in more extreme temperatures and weather, you won’t find yourself stuck and alone. Many years ago when I was able to walk with only a few issues, I once helped a lady who had travelled out in sleet and come off of her mobility scooter due to a rather large, sloped kerb. It was by pure chance that myself and another person across the road saw her stuck and in pain down a small side street. I dread to think how long she could have been left with no help had we not seen her exactly at the right time.
Travel Smart: Pack a bag with a few essentials. Some spare warm clothes, a charger pack for your mobile phone, some snacks and water are all good ideas. If you need any essential medication and are off out in the snow, it would be a good idea to pack those too, just in case you end up running out of battery or having issues with continuing forwards on your journey due to temperature or snowfall.
Have you ever been out in the snow in a wheelchair or mobility scooter? Let me know below!