VALUABLE INFORMATION FOR AGENTS

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 bringing 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, owner/rehabilitation specialist of MEDability Health Care Solutions in Markham, Ont.

Ask if your mobility company has an annual maintenance plan, where service techs will check to make sure everything is in working order, says Justin Fox, owner of The Mobility Shop in Toronto.

Hire a professional medical equipment company to do preventative maintenance on equipment such as vertical porch lifts. It’s important that they specially rated grease be used on the acme screw, which is what moves the lift up and down, says MEDability’s owner/accessibility consultant Don Titus.

Vertical lifts should be parked above ground and the motor should be warmed up before using. Before you board the lift, run it down then back up again to warm it up, Don says.

Have a back-up manual wheelchair or a secondary power source for electric medical equipment, Rose says. “Your motorized wheelchair battery will lose 60 per cent of its charge as soon as the temperature drops below zero.”

Preserve battery life by wrapping the battery in a blanket. When the battery is not in use, leave it plugged in to keep them warm, she says. “Batteries under perform in colder weather and it will take them longer to charge,” Fox says.

When not in use for extended periods, he recommends scooter batteries be kept inside. It’s also of utmost importance not to let the batteries drain completely because that could damage the battery, he says. “People come in and say the battery was fine in September or October, and in April they wonder why the battery is dead. If batteries drain completely, they lose their ability to recharge, which can lower their functionality. You may have been able to go 10 to 15 km and now only get two to three km.”

Try to take the scooter out when the weather is nice and go to the mall and drive around, then come home and recharge it. If you can’t get out, at least turn the scooter on, let the battery drain a bit then recharge it, Fox says.