Summer is here, and many of us are planning to spend time outdoors enjoying activities with our friends and families. While summer is a time for fun, it certainly has its own set of risks that wheelchair users will want to be aware of regarding their chairs, wheelchair ramp, and overall safety. Here, National Ramp discusses some quick tips to help wheelchair users stay safe while heading out to enjoy the weather this summer.
Keep Your Ramp as Clean as Possible
Summer storms can bring debris that can make messes on wheelchair ramps. Keeping your wheelchair ramp clean is a crucial way to ensure safe access to your home because these messes can make using your ramp much more difficult. Mud and dirt accumulation on a handicap ramp can cover parts of the tread that creates its slip-resistant surface. If the surface loses traction because of slippery debris, wheelchair users may find that their wheels are more likely to slip while traveling up or down. Debris such as branches or sticks that can fall off trees during summer storms similarly present a safety issue on handicap ramps. This is because they can damage wheelchair equipment and prevent safe access into your home by cutting off your path. If you find that your aluminum ramp is covered by mud, dirt, sticks, or other debris after a storm, a hose can be an efficient way to thoroughly clean it off.
Puddles can be common after summer storms and can be hazardous to wheelchairs and their users. One of the issues that puddles present is that it can be difficult to know how deep they are, and deeper ones can damage your chair’s internal components. The best course of action for navigating puddles is to avoid crossing them whenever possible. If you find that there is no choice but to travel through a shallow puddle, you will want to do so as slowly as possible. This is because you want to avoid puddle water splashing up into your wheelchair, which can be particularly damaging for electric wheelchair parts. A home handicap ramp such as a steel, wooden, or aluminum ramp is designed and installed to ensure that puddles do not form on their surface, but you should make sure that the path to your ramp stays puddle free as well.
Clean Your Wheelchair Often
One of the most important summer maintenance practices for wheelchairs is frequent cleaning. For best results, wheelchair users should look to clean their wheelchair at least once a week and after outdoor events that can cause their chair to get dirty faster. Using a damp cloth, wheelchair users can wipe off dirt, dust, sweat and grime that accumulates on the exterior of the chair to keep it clean after enjoying outdoor activities. When cleaning, remember to inspect and clean the wheels to remove mud, dirt, debris, and sticks that may cause damage to more sensitive areas of your chair as well. Being proactive about cleaning your chair can help prevent buildup that will make cleaning more difficult later. After all, dirt, grime, and debris buildup can eventually lead to damage that will require professional attention to fix.
Wheelchair users that find that their wheelchair tires get hot during the summer may consider gloves to protect their hands during warmer months. This can be particularly true of manual wheelchairs, where tires may pick up heat from friction over hot cement as your travel to your destination. While wearing gloves may seem a bit counter-intuitive during the summer, they can offer great protection against the heat transferred to your wheelchair wheels in the hot summer sun. This ensures that wheelchair users can avoid burns from accidentally touching hot wheelchair surfaces and cut down on blisters from traveling long distances. Many wheelchair users opt for summer cycling gloves during warm months, as they provide protection, cushion hands against vibration, and help keep hands from slipping.
Keep Your Battery Charged
If you are an electric wheelchair user, always be sure to frequently charge your battery in the summer. Warmer weather can cause your batteries to drain faster- the hotter, the quicker the power will drain. One way to avoid losing power is to charge your battery as often as time allows during summer months. It helps to remind yourself to charge whenever you are inside or not currently using your chair. If you have the space or money for spare batteries, carrying extra can be extremely helpful if your battery gives out while you are in the heat. No one wants to end deal with a difficult situation while they are out and about, so always look after your chair battery!