Change can be overwhelming. The loss of mobility is undoubtedly one of the most challenging adjustments a person can experience. However, decreased mobility doesn’t have to hold you back. With the development of innovative technology, people can turn to tools like scooters or power wheelchairs to reclaim their mobility and live full, prosperous lives. That said, adjusting to your new device and learning how to use it can be a bit tricky.

We put together some power wheelchair safety tips to help you adapt and ensure a smooth transition into your new chair.

Be Patient with Yourself

The most important tip you can implement when learning how to use your new power wheelchair is to be patient and give yourself grace. Remember that nobody excels at a new skill right away and that practice makes perfect.

While you may encounter moments of frustration or helplessness when operating your new power chair, keep in mind that these feelings are completely natural. Exercise patience and persistence, and you’ll be an expert in no time.

Charge Your Battery Every Night

Battery care is critical when it comes to maintaining the functionality of your power wheelchair. While it may seem excessive at first, it’s essential to charge your chair’s battery every single night. Even if you have barely used your chair that day, you still need to charge it at night because this will prolong your battery’s efficacy. In fact, if you rarely drain your battery by 50% and make sure you charge them up every night, you can almost double your battery’s lifespan.

Avoid Depleting Battery by 80%

Again, looking after your battery is vital in preserving your power chair’s longevity. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid draining your battery by 80% or more. Doing so will significantly impair the battery and subsequently require you to replace them much sooner. You can avoid depleting the battery at this level by doing the following:

  • Avoiding non-essential travel, particularly outdoors around town
  • Charging your battery each night
  • Drain new batteries by up to 30% for the first ten days; this will assist the battery in becoming fully charged
  • Always using your own charger

Turn the Chair Off When Getting In and Out

To guarantee your safety and wellbeing, make sure to turn the power chair’s power off when getting in and out of it. By switching the power off, you can rest assured that the chair won’t move, even if you accidentally press a button on the controller or hit the joystick during your transition. It’s important to be especially diligent in implementing this tip as failing to turn the power off during this process could result in severe injuries.

Do Not Put Weight on Armrests or Footplates

Another vital thing to remember when getting in and out of your chair to avoid putting weight on the power chair’s armrests and footplates. These surfaces are not designed to be weight-bearing. Therefore, if you set your weight on these surfaces, you run the risk of severely damaging your chair and/or sustaining injuries yourself. Take extra care to not lean, sit, or stand on these surfaces at any time when using your chair.

Use Caution in Uneven Outdoor Terrain

If you operate your power wheelchair outdoors, remember to take it slow and use caution when navigating terrain. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of losing control of your chair, getting stuck, and/or inflicting damage to the chair.

Some examples of outdoor settings that might be hazardous include:

  • Sand
  • Rocky/cracked sidewalk
  • Gravel
  • Snow
  • Slopes/hills

Consistently Check Your Tire Inflation

When traveling in your power chair, you want the smoothest experience possible. Well-inflated tires are crucial to guarantee this outcome. So, be sure to regularly check your tires to make sure that they are properly inflated.

Store Your Power Wheelchair Correctly

It’s important to store your power wheelchair in the correct environment to preserve its battery and make sure you get the most use out of it. Your power wheelchair should be kept in a climate-controlled space.

Extreme heat or cold will likely damage the chair’s electrical wiring and drain its battery. Avoid storing your power wheelchair outdoors, in a garage, a shed, or in any other non-climate-controlled space.

Perform Regular Maintenance Checks

The more you use your chair, the more familiar you will become with the noises it usually makes and what the different components typically look like. While operating your power wheelchair, keep your eyes and ears open for any frayed wires, unusual squeaking sounds, or other abnormalities.

If you notice any of these, they could signal an underlying issue with the functionality of your power chair. In this case, notify your provider immediately to have the issue resolved. By regularly performing these maintenance checks, you’ll ensure you maintain your power chair’s effectiveness and increase its lifespan.

Avoid Getting Your Power Chair Wet

Your power wheelchair has delicate electrical wiring that can be severely damaged if it gets wet. When traveling outdoors in your chair, try your best to avoid puddles, as this can cause the water to splash up onto you and the chair. As much as possible, avoid traveling in your chair in the rain.

If you must travel in light rain, be sure to wrap a clear plastic bag over the controller and the joystick to ensure your safety and the preservation of the chair. Under no circumstances should power wheelchairs be operated in heavy rain or thunderstorms.

Transitioning to a power wheelchair can be a challenging adjustment. However, your journey in learning how to use your new power chair will be easier with these helpful safety tips. The sooner you learn how to properly and safely use your power chair, the sooner you can reap the benefits of increased mobility and reclaim your freedom.