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mobilityissuesExcerpted from an article by Connie Adair for realtytimes.com

“It’s the time of year when people winter-proof their homes — caulking, adding insulation, checking roofs, gutters and downspouts, putting lawn tools away and brings snow blowers and shovels out of storage.  However , people with mobility issues need to take extra precautions when preparing for winter.

‘Dedicate some extra time to go over all mobility care equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers, vehicle lifts and vertical porch lifts and ensure everything is working properly,’ says Rose Titus, of MEDability Health Care Solutions.  Ask if your mobility company has annual maintenance plan, where service techs will check to make sure everything is in working order…

Hire a professional medical equipment company to do preventative maintenance on equipment such as vertical porch lifts.  It’s important that specialty lubricants be used on the acme screw, which is what moves the lift up and down.  Vertical lifts should be parked above ground and the motor should be warmed up before using.

Have a backup manual wheelchair or a secondary power source for electric medical equipment…motorized wheelchair batteries will lose 60% of their charge as soon as the temperature drops below zero.  Preserve battery life by wrapping the battery in a blanket.  When not in use, leave it plugged in to keep  it warm…batteries under-perform in colder weather and it takes them longer to charge.  When not in sued for extended periods, scooter batteries should be kept inside…

If you must go out, modifications can help you avoid getting stuck in the snow or sliding on the ice.  You can create your own wheel grips with some nylon cables – wrap the cables 25 to 30 times evenly around your wheels, being sure to point the buckles to the inside of the wheel….for additional traction during the winter months.

Lighting and surfaces should be next on the checklist.  Any surface you will be walking on should be kept clear of ice and snow, so you may want to hire a neighbor or snow-clearing company before the first snow to be prepared.  Special paint, which has a sandy grit in it, can be applied to porches and decks to make the surface less slippery.  Likewise, ensure that concrete surfaces are textured for a better grip.  Keep plenty of sand in a handy spot to help keep ramps and sidewalks slip-free.

Having a homemade de-icer is a good idea.  Mix 50% vinegar and 50% water in a spray bottle, and watch the icy pathways vanish.  Another de-icer recipe calls for mixing 2/3 rubbing alcohol and 1/3 water in a spray bottle.  For wood ramps, apply fresh strips of non-slip tape each year.

Installing lighting with motions sensors outside near entry doors is a good idea.  In addition, you may also want to have an emergency kit.  Make sure all emergency kits items are organized in one place, and that special needs equipment is tagged and includes instructions about how to use each device during an emergency.  Have a  list of food/drug allergies and current medications.  Service anmals should also have an emergency kit that includes a minimum 72-hour supply of bottled water and pet food, medications and dosage.

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