How to Operate a Wheelchair Safely Outdoors
Operating a standard or electric wheelchair requires good hand-to-eye coordination and skill. When operating a wheelchair outdoors, it’s important to know the surroundings and the terrain in addition to understanding how to properly operate the wheelchair. Know a few safety tips on how to operate a wheelchair safely outdoors to get where you need to go.
Operating a Wheelchair Outside Steps
When operating a wheelchair outdoors, utilize the seat belt on the wheelchair for added safety. Most manufacturers have made seat belts standard features on wheelchairs. If yours isn’t equipped with one, you can purchase it separately and have it installed. Be sure to secure the belt tightly across your lap
2. Keep all wheels on the ground.
- Operate a wheelchair safely outdoors by keeping all four wheels on the ground when maneuvering it. Don’t lean back or forward to gain momentum in the chair, as this can cause the wheelchair to tip over and you could fall. Keep your weight evenly balanced in the chair so that each wheel is accommodating the same amount of weight, which will help keep the chair stable.
- One of the most important steps to operate a wheelchair outdoors safely is to engage the wheel locks before sitting in the chair or getting out of it. Most standard wheelchairs have wheel locks that consist of levers that can be pushed against the wheel to keep the chair from rolling out from under you, and electric wheelchairs have a separate button or levers just for locking the chair into place. Always make sure the locks are fully in place before you get in the chair or stand up.
- Make sure the path you’re taking in your wheelchair is clear of any obstructions like traffic cones or trash barrels. If you’re on the sidewalk, be aware of cracks or rifts in the sidewalk that could cause uneven traction for your wheelchair. Be aware of crosswalk areas where cars might not be able to see you crossing.
- Always keep your feet placed on the foot or leg rests when using your standard or electric wheelchair outdoors. This will prevent your feet and legs from getting in the path of the wheels or getting caught under the chair when you operate it.
6. Try safety gear.
- Consider investing in a few pieces of safety gear to use when you operate your wheelchair outdoors. Non-skid gloves are beneficial for wheelchair users, because they keep the hands from slipping when operating the wheels or the hand controls and prevent perspiration.
7. Secure all baggage.
- Stow all bags and packages in a compartment on the back of the wheelchair or in a backpack before you are mobile. Loose bags and packages could fall off a motorized wheelchair and be difficult for you to pick up, or they could get caught in the wheels of a standard wheelchair and create a dangerous situation.