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Caregivers have one of the hardest jobs. You will find yourself working long hours several days a week taking care of people who are unable to care for themselves. You may find that one of the most difficult elements of your job is one that many of us do not even think about: properly and safely maneuvering a wheelchair. Misuse or improperly handling a wheelchair can cause serious accidents. Fortunately, most of these accidents are easily avoidable when equipped with proper knowledge and safety procedures. Here are a few tips to help you avoid these types of accidents.
You must keep up with the maintenance on your wheelchair. You must ensure that all of the parts are in the best working order. Faulty, inadequate, or recalled parts may cause your wheelchair to malfunction, which can lead to an accident.
The brakes always need to be in the locked position before getting in or out of the wheelchair. You never want to risk the wheelchair moving while you are trying to reposition yourself. Also, remember to turn off the power when you are getting in or out of a power wheelchair. Not only will you save yourself some battery power, but you do not want anyone accidentally hitting the lever and causing it to move.
Refrain from pulling on doors or any other type of object while you are in a manual wheelchair. You do not want a door or any other type of object to inadvertently release and throw you and the wheelchair backward. You could easily tip over and injure yourself.
Always lift the footplates before getting in or out of the chair. Also, some types of wheelchairs feature removable arm and leg rests. If your wheelchair has this feature, you should always ensure that they are secured by raising the arms and moving the leg rest away from the wheelchair. Always do this before each use to ensure an easy entrance or exit to your wheelchair, which can help reduce unnecessary accidents.
Avoid putting anything heavy in the back of your wheelchair even if there seems to be plenty of room for some extra storage. Heavy loads placed in the back of your wheelchair can easily cause the wheelchair to tip backward, which can lead to an accident.
Do not remove the anti-tip wheels or bars from your wheelchair. Also, you must ensure that they are always in proper working order. They are there for a reason- to ensure your chair does not tip over.
Do not allow any children to play with your wheelchair. Your wheelchair is not a toy and should never be treated as such. It must be treated and handled properly in order for it to remain in perfect working condition. Also, never let a child ride or sit on the footrests or battery cover. These devices will break if there is too much weight on them.
Always use the proper safety equipment if you need to operate your wheelchair in or near the street. If you happen to use your wheelchair at night in the streets, you must have headlights and flashing tail lights. If you use your wheelchair close to the streets at any time of the day, you must have the proper reflective gear and flags and remember to wear bright colors to help vehicles easily see you.
Avoid operating your wheelchair on steep inclines. It is extremely unsafe to try to go up or down any steep inclines. You could easily lose control of your wheelchair or tip the chair. It is an accident waiting to happen.
Avoid using your wheelchair in the rain. Unfortunately, wheelchairs are not waterproof. They can rust, and you will find that the wheels do not grip properly when the ground is wet. Also, if you have a power wheelchair, you do not want to get the controls or battery wet. You want to keep your wheelchair in the best shape to avoid any accidents, which means you should avoid wet weather.
When operating a wheelchair you need to stay cautious and alert at all times. There are many dangers that can cause you to have an accident, but as long as you stay alert and diligent, you can avoid most of these accidents. Hopefully, the tips above will put your mind at ease and help you feel just a little bit safer when you operate your wheelchair.