Wednesday, June 17, 2020

DIY Wheelchair Prep For Hurricane Season

Note: the following article contains a detailed list of suggestions. Custom Mobility Inc. isn't liable for any damages or accidents that may occur to your equipment.

To better prepare for hurricane season, it’s important to create a strategy as soon as possible. Planning is especially important for wheelchair users, people with disabilities, and our elderly population. If you rely on mobility and medical equipment, how should you begin preparing for this year’s hurricane season?

The First Step: Checking Your Equipment
Whether you use powered or manual mobility equipment, a wheelchair accessible vehicle, other medical equipment, or all of the above, here is an easy place to start. To prevent problems that could affect your equipment during a hurricane, pay close attention to the condition of your wheelchair and other devices. Regular maintenance is always important to protect your health and to keep you safe. Preventative maintenance is especially important during hurricane season, because it could impact your ability to evacuate, shelter in place, or travel to a public shelter. Additionally, scheduling routine maintenance will give us time to properly diagnose any repairs that your wheelchair or scooter may need. In some cases, we might need to order replacement parts, which could take a few weeks to arrive.

Tips For Power Wheelchair and Scooter Users
In wet or rainy conditions, it’s extremely important to protect your joystick from water damage. Covering it with a clear, plastic bag, is a great way to keep water out. If you carry one with you, you’ll always be ready for a surprise shower. It’s also important to try and keep your batteries as dry as possible. In case your battery gets wet, disconnect one battery connector and give us a call. This step will prevent further damage to your wheelchair or scooter until we can help. Did you know that rain ponchos can get caught in your wheels? To avoid a poncho-related mishap, it might be best to wear a fitted rain coat.

For power wheelchair and scooter users, losing electricity can be a pain. Losing power during a hurricane can make things especially difficult. If this happens, you may not be able to charge the batteries of your mobility device. If this happens, what should you do? As a temporary solution, it could be a great option to keep a backup, manual wheelchair.

In case you find yourself in an emergency situation, it’s important that your caregivers, family members, and/or friends, know how to operate all of your mobility devices. Knowing the size and weight of your devices can also help your support system. While evacuating may be scary, it’s reassuring to know that you have assistance.

Manual Wheelchairs
In case of an emergency, it’s just as important to perform maintenance on your manual wheelchair. To help you prepare, it’s important to check the condition of your tires, casters, wheel locks, and upholstery. For your health and safety, all of these pieces must be in working condition.

Some of our clients need specialized seat cushions to protect their skin and/or maintain their balance. Even if you have to evacuate without your wheelchair, it’s important to bring your cushion with you, wherever you go. For many wheelchair users, sitting without their seat cushions can cause skin breakdown. This situation can become very dangerous, and can lead to hospitalization with a long recovery time.

Though many people might not realize it, maintaining the cover of your seat cushion is also very important. In case your seat ever gets wet, it may be a good idea to purchase an extra cover. Keep an eye out for any tears in it or in the upholstery of your wheelchair’s back. We recommend that our clients replace these yearly, or as needed. 

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
To accommodate wheelchair ramps, many wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) feature lowered floors. If you drive a WAV, it might be easy to get stuck on a stormy road, or to avoid standing water.

Similar to wheelchair maintenance, it’s important to stay current on the maintenance of your WAV. In the rare case that you experience difficulty with your ramp or suspension system, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the emergency, manual functions of your conversion. Click here for a helpful video on the manual operation of your WAV’s electric ramp.

Other Assistive Devices
For individuals who use mobility devices such as canes or walkers, bringing an extra will make sure that your evacuation goes as smoothly as possible. If you use oxygen or are on dialysis, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to make a preparedness plan.

Important Information
Do your mobility devices need maintenance? Our Custom Mobility team is always happy to help! Click here to schedule maintenance for your mobility device.

Click here to read more about wheelchair service.

Click here to learn about DIY maintenance in case of emergencies.

Please see more tips from our 2019 article about hurricane preparation. It includes information not covered in this article, including advice about service animals.
If you need additional assistance, call us at: 800-622-5151.

Mary Carol Peterson

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