When winter weather comes, it can wreak havoc on your exterior mobility aids, that is, any of your equipment that is exposed to the elements or weather. There are some specific ways to preserve and maintain your exterior mobility aids that will prolong their life and improve how they perform- including regular routine inspections from a qualified mobility aid professional to ensure equipment is up to par and problem-free.
Weather, the elements, and environmental influences, like pollution, can have an impact on your mobility aids and equipment– particularly those that are installed or intended for use outside. The climate that you live in plays a role in how you should preserve and protect your aids for wintertime usage, but there are some standard recommendations from manufacturers that merit attention and adherence.
What should you do to winterize your mobility aids and equipment that are exposed to the elements? Here is what you should know:
Basic Care and Service
The first benchmark of basic preventative care is regular service and inspections to ensure equipment is working properly. The perfect time to do this is before winter when conditions outside could get unpredictable. This reduces the risk of having heavy scooters or outdoor lifts fail to perform when they are needed the most. If you own or rent mobility aids or devices, like lifts or scooters, make sure to have these serviced before winter sets in by a reputable and qualified mobility professional in your area. If you buy new equipment from recognized vendors, you will likely have access to support services through this retailer; failure to have equipment inspected regularly could impact the status of any service warranties. Talk to your distinct retailer to learn more.
Preparing Pool Lifts
Whether you are planning to use your pool lift year round, or if you have hopes of putting it in storage until spring, it is integral to give the lift a good cleaning before winter rolls around. Next, apply a layer of wax to help repel dust and dirt during down-times; talk to your mobility aid retailer for specific wax recommendations. If you are planning on uninstalling the lift for winter, store it in clean, dry condition in a clean, dry place. Remove the lift’s battery and put it on the charger so that it is ready to go when you are ready to swim in the spring. If you are using the lift year-round in the California climate, go ahead and use a protective cover during winter or foul weather to protect the device. In fact, a cover is a prudent investment for any piece of mobility equipment, especially those that are intended for outdoor use.
Taking Care of Stairs
When it comes to exterior stair lifts, these are designed to hold up to the elements, but don’t overlook regular service visits and an inspection at least once a year. The rails on your lift are metal and the seat for an exterior lift is typically molded plastic, which is resilient to wind, sun, and weather. Make sure that you invest in and use a protective cover to help prevent deterioration over time. Also, look for exterior lifts that feature closed rail systems, which will contain the mechanics of the lift so that it is resistant to the rigors of being outside.
Precautions for Portable and Permanent Ramps
If you regularly use permanent ramps to gain access to your home or place of business, make sure to keep them de-iced and routinely salted, depending on the climate that you live in. Since freezing temperatures are not the norm in the Bay Area, we suggest regular attention when snow does occur (or for clients that live in the northern California region) so that it doesn’t impact the condition of the ramp. Furthermore, leaving ice, water, and snow on the ramp can prevent your chair, scooter, or feet from gaining traction, which potentially could result in a fall.
Portable ramps are easy-enough to install and uninstall as needed or depending on the season. Make sure to thoroughly clean and dry your portable ramp when not in use to remove contaminants and debris that could degrade the surface. Stow in a trunk, garage, or near the door for fast access all year round.
Maintaining your Ride
For scooters or chairs that are used outside routinely, pay special attention to the tires: do they need air? How is the tread? There are accessories that can be purchased and added to improve tire performance on rough terrain or in foul weather; talk to a mobility dealer to learn more. Have the chair or scooter inspected and fully charge your batteries before winter comes.
Winterizing your mobility aids prolongs their life and improves their performance. Got other questions about how to care for your mobility aids or devices? Talk to the industry experts at Pacific Mobility to learn more.
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)