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How to Push a Wheelchair through the Snow

December 22, 2023

Navigating through snowy and icy sidewalks can be an obstacle for anyone, but this challenge can be compounded when you or someone you care for uses a wheelchair. Therefore, it's important to know how to navigate a wheelchair in the snow safely. 

Protecting a Wheelchair in Snow Conditions

All wheelchairs should be routinely tuned up to ensure their parts are tightly fastened. Uneven, icy sidewalks can cause extra jolting and pressure on the mechanical aspects of the wheelchair. 

For manual wheelchair users, adding wheelchair snow tires can significantly improve movement on snowy surfaces.

  • These tires are typically wider, have knobby treads, and are made of softer rubber, which provides a better grip on slippery streets and sidewalks.
  • Wheelchair users who feel especially adventurous can add snow blades to their tires. 

For power wheelchair users, always have a full battery charge.

  • It's important to note that batteries don't hold their charge as well in colder weather and could run out faster when dealing with snow and ice.
  • If there's precipitation while out and about, put a plastic bag over the chair's joystick to protect it from moisture. 

Wear the Right Clothes for Snowy Weather

We recently wrote a blog about dressing smartly for cold Minnesota days. These tips also apply to those who use wheelchairs. 

Tip #1: Dress in Layers

Layering is a smart way to stay warm and dry. Here are the three layers that should be worn when spending time outdoors in the cold: 

  • Start with an inner layer of wool, silk, or polypropylene. These fabrics hold more body heat than cotton and don't absorb moisture. 
  • The middle layer is the insulation layer. Wear wool, down, or fleece clothing to isolate heat by trapping air close to your body. Keep legs warm in winter with fleece tights underneath pants. 
  • For the outer layer, opt for tightly woven, water and wind-resistant materials to reduce loss of body heat. 

Tip #2: Wear a Hat, Scarf, and Mittens

The head, hands, and feet are often the first to feel the cold. Opt for a high-quality winter hat and choose scarves or knit masks that cover the face and neck. When it comes to hands, mittens generally keep hands warmer than gloves, but manual wheelchair users who want to navigate through the snow might be better served with gloves for the dexterity provided. 

Tip #3: Keep Feet Warm and Dry

Even when using a wheelchair, your feet must be well-protected from the cold. Choose foot protection that is going to keep heat in and moisture out. Socks made of wool or fleece are designed to keep feet very warm, and water-resistant boots are a great choice. 

Have Patience!

It's important to allow extra time for outings during the winter months to navigate safely and calmly through challenging terrain. Remember, moving slowly can prevent slips and falls.

While winter may bring challenges to those using wheelchairs, careful planning and preparation can make it manageable and even enjoyable. Always monitor comfort levels and be aware of any limitations.

Here to Support You

At Best Care, we understand the importance of caring for your loved ones during winter. We are here for you and ready to assist with any questions or concerns related to family caregiving.

Our priority is the safety and comfort of your loved ones, and we are committed to helping make this winter season a pleasant one for you and your family!

Caregiver pushing wheelchair in snow.
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