Attention to wheelchair safety is essential to maximize your independence and enjoy an on-the-go lifestyle. Proper use, handling and maintenance of your mobility chair are critical to your protection and avoiding injury.
Whenever you are in your wheelchair, always maintain your center-of-gravity when you are sitting or traveling. Use a positioning belt if there is one available.
Daily activities will require you to transfer in and out of your wheelchair, reach for items, and bend forward. For wheelchair safety, practice completing these actions in someone’s presence prior to attempting them on your own.
When you reach, lean, or bend forward, always use the wheel locks or brakes and maintain a firm, balanced seat position. Never reach between your knees or move forward in your seat to pick up an object.
Prior to attempting to ride on ramps, inclines, or declines, determine your capabilities by first practicing with an attendant. Never attempt to go up a steep slope alone. Before traversing a pathway, road or sidewalk, look for uneven surfaces, spills, holes or obstacles before proceeding.
Don’t attempt to go up a curb or tip your wheelchair without the assistance of an attendant. And it is always safer to find your way around a curb rather than go up it. Look for a nearby ramp, curb cut, or elevator.
If you have a power wheelchair, program the speed so that it does not go any faster than you can handle, particularly when going in reverse.
Keep the power of your wheelchair off prior to transferring or using a ramp or lift because it can be dangerous if you bump into your joystick when the power is on.
Wheelchair Transportation Safety Standards
If you remain in your wheelchair while riding in a moving vehicle, be sure that it has a "transport safe" label. A transport safe label guarantees that the wheelchair has undergone several crash tests and is able to withstand a 30mph collision.
During transport, wheelchair users need to use a tie-down system to secure the wheelchair to the floor of the vehicle.
An occupant restraint system, which is separate from a positioning belt, should be used to reduce the risk of injury during a collision.
Keep your wheelchair in good condition for optimal safety. Check the brakes on a regular basis to ensure that they are not loose and can hold the chair in place on a slope.
If the wheel locks on a manual wheelchair do not operate easily, you may need to lubricate them.
Check the front and rear wheels of a manual wheelchair to ensure they spin freely and that the bearings do not make any noises. Push your manual wheelchair across a smooth, even floor to see whether it goes in a straight line. If not, the wheels are likely out of alignment or the bearings may need to be replaced.
For more tips on wheelchair maintenance, click here.
Types of Mobility Chairs
Wheelchair Sports Activities
Helpful Resource Organizations
Mobility Scooter Buying Tips
Portable Ramp Options