For those confined to wheelchairs, comfort is rated as more important than anything else. And they are willing to pay more for more comfort. This is understandable since they are going to spend a large part of their day in the wheelchair. Whilst comfort is focused on a lot, safety when using wheelchairs is generally ignored.
Most important when it comes to wheelchair safety are making sure that the brakes work properly. Check them regularly and make sure that they are still tight. It is important, for obvious reasons to have your brakes in good working order.
Stability is also a very important aspect of wheelchair safety. You can get the stability and balance right by following the ensuing tips:
1) If you have a seat-positioning strap if you have one.
2) Make sure, when you lean forward, that the wheel casters are pointed towards the front. Don’t lean further forward than the armrests if you don’t want to risk overbalancing.
3) Do not attempt to reach between your knees in order to pick up things off the floor.
4) Make sure that you do not shift the bulk of your weight in the direction that you are reaching to.
5) Do not reach over the top of the back of the chair.
6) Try to take the smoothest path possible – avoid obstacles like steps, curbs, etc.
7) Never try to tilt the chair when you are on your own.
8) Do not get onto an escalator unless you have someone to assist you. Try to avoid escalators in general – most places will have elevators and escalators.
9) Be careful when moving along an incline. If the incline is slippery or icy, be very careful.
10) You should not attempt slopes that are at more than a nine degree angle on your own.
For those that are helping out the person in the chair, here are some easy tricks to follow:
1) You should always let the person in the chair know what you are doing and should try to avoid jerking the chair or sudden movements.
2) In order to reduce fatigue, you need to maintain good posture. This is also important so that you do not tip the chair and ensures a smooth ride.
3) If you need to tip the chair and it does not have a tipping bar, you are going to need someone to hold onto the other end of the chair.
By and large, it is most important to use common sense when operating a wheelchair. The wheelchair is important to the independence of the user and, if the basic safety principles are followed, it will allow for years of independence. Be sure to practice the safety principles and get the most out of your wheelchair.