Safety Tips for Powered Wheelchair Users
As a wheelchair user, one of the things you strive for is to be independent. In order to remain independent, there are a set of safety rules to follow to avoid any unwanted scenarios, because the general public will not be able to understand the challenges of a wheelchair user - people are either too helpful or choose to completely ignore you.
1. Do Some Research Before Choosing a Wheelchair
Try not to rush when choosing a wheelchair. There are a lot of things to consider when getting one, especially the comfort and safety of your wheelchair that is suited to your physical capability. Consult your doctor, get a recommendation of the type of wheelchair you should be using and use that as a guide. Try to get a wheelchair with safety features like anti-tipping, increased stability, etc. If you can afford it, get a powered or standing wheelchair because these wheelchairs are usually equipped with added safety.
2. Get Comfortable with Your Wheelchair and Familiar with the Center of Gravity
Once you have your wheelchair, it will take some time for you to get familiar and adjusted to it. It’s important that you try to move your body around to your capability, so you can estimate the balance of the wheelchair. The center of gravity of the wheelchair will depend on both the design of the wheelchair and how your body is positioned on it. Moving around and trying to reach stuff will allow you to figure out the threshold of your movements. Don’t try to go beyond that threshold. If you need to reach something, maneuver the wheelchair closer.
3. Be Extra Aware of Your Surroundings - Especially of People
Being on a wheelchair can trigger anxiety especially when you are in crowds, or around people, or in a busy place. It is very important to remain calm and be aware of your surroundings at all times because people tend to be ignorant of the difficulties faced in maneuvering a wheelchair. Hence, you may come across people walking too close to you, or abruptly trying to overtake you, that might result in unwanted contact.
4. Add Accessories to Your Wheelchair that can Improve Safety
Your wheelchair needs to be as visible as possible to the public, and safety accessories don’t have to be expensive. You can add accessories like reflective stickers or a blinker light for better night visibility, and maybe a flag pole for daytime visibility.
5. Never Take Risks
There are certain guidelines to follow when navigating a wheelchair, and it’s best to stick to it. Moving in crowded or busy spaces may trigger anxiety, and as a user you might opt to take the risk and probably move through an obstacle like a curb, or a bump to avoid the crowd. Don’t risk it. If you think that navigating through heavy traffic is hard, picking yourself up once your wheelchair has tipped over is a lot harder. Stick to whatever is safest.
6. Regularly Maintain Your Wheelchair
Every wheelchair requires maintenance, and powered wheelchairs may require more. So, learn about your wheelchair, and try to regularly maintain it. Aside from sustaining the comfort of the wheelchair, maintaining it is also essential to your safety as a wheelchair user, and helps with its longevity and durability of usage. Look up service shops and parts availability in your area. In any case that you may require assistance, have a reliable person that you can call to assist you.