How To Keep Warm in a Wheelchair? (10 Tips to Prepare for Cold Weather)

We all know how difficult it can be to keep warm in the winter, especially if you use a wheelchair. But there are some things you can do to make sure you stay comfortable and toasty all season long. 

Here are some tips on how to keep warm in a wheelchair.

1. Get a Wheel Chair Blanket

Just like regular blankets, there are special blankets made specifically for people who use wheelchairs.

These blankets are usually made from a thicker and more insulating material, which helps trap heat and keep the person warm. Some also have velcro straps that help keep the blanket in place.

A regular one will do if you don’t have a wheelchair blanket. Just ensure that the blanket is not too big that it will drag on the ground and get dirty, but not too small that it won’t cover your lap and legs.

You also want to make sure the blanket is well-insulated so that it will help to trap heat.

2. Dress in Layers

Wearing layers is a great way to keep warm, no matter what you do.

When you sit in a wheelchair, you cannot move around to generate heat. Dressing properly for cold weather is a way to ensure you stay warm ( has a nice piece of article on how to dress warmly in the winter).

Here are the steps to take when dressing in layers:

a) Start With a Base Layer

Your base layer should be a thin layer close-fitting to your body and made from a material that will wick away moisture, like wool or synthetic fabrics. This will help to keep you dry and comfortable.

b) Add a Mid-layer of Insulation

A mid-layer should be something like a fleece or down jacket. This will help to trap heat and keep you warm.

c) Add a Waterproof and Windproof Outer Layer

An outer layer adds protection from the elements and helps to keep you even warmer.

d) Don’t Forget Your Head, Hands, and Feet

Covering your head, hands, and feet will help to prevent heat loss from these extremities. A hat, scarf, and gloves are all vital for staying warm.

3. Use a Heat Pad or a Warm Water Bottle

If you are struggling to keep warm, you can try using a heating pad. You can put the heat pad on your lap or underneath your blanket to help keep you warm.

You can also buy hand a feet warmers that you can place in your gloves or boots to help keep those extremities warm.

Another option is to fill a water bottle with hot water and place it next to you or underneath your blanket. Make sure that whatever you are using is well-insulated so that it doesn’t get too hot and cause burns.

4. Move Around When You Can

If you can, try to move around as much as possible. This will help to generate heat and keep you warm. Even just moving your arms and legs around can make a big difference.

If you are in a wheelchair, you might not be able to move around as much, but there are still ways to stay active. You can try doing exercises in your chair or moving your upper body around.

5. Use the Sun to Your Advantage

Try to take advantage of the sun and soak up as much heat as possible when the sun is out.

If you can, sit in the sun for a little while to help warm you up. This will keep you much warmer than sitting in the shade.

Stay safe in the sun by applying sunscreen, and don’t stay for too long, as you can still get sunburn even in the winter.

6. Use a Portable Heater

Portable heaters are a great way to keep yourself warm, especially if you will be in one place for a long time.

There are all sorts of different portable heaters that you can buy. Find a small one that is easy to transport and that you can set up quickly.

Always read the instructions carefully before using the heater and follow the safety precautions. Do not fall asleep with the heater on, as this can be very dangerous.

7. Invest in a Wheelchair Heater

Backrest and seat pad cushions on the market have built-in heaters. They can be sized to your wheelchair and are easy to install. Some of them even have massaging capabilities.

These are great options if you want a more permanent solution to staying warm in your wheelchair.

8. Fuel Your Body Properly

A significant part of staying warm is ensuring your body has the fuel to generate heat. This means eating regular and healthy meals and staying hydrated.

If you are not doing this, your body will go into survival mode and start to shut down non-essential functions, like keeping you warm, to conserve energy.

So make sure to eat and drink regularly throughout the day, even if you don’t feel hungry or thirsty. You can, of course, eat and consume hot foods to give you an extra boost of warmth.

9. Use Body Heat

This can be your body heat or the heat from another person or animal. If you are cold, try to get close to someone else or snuggle up with a blanket.

You can place your hands under your armpits or between your legs to help trap heat. If your furry friend accompanies you, you can also try snuggling with them to stay warm.

10. Stay Indoors

Although getting some fresh air is lovely and very important, sometimes it is just too cold to be outside.

In this case, it is best to stay inside where it is warm and find other activities to partake in (here is our article on fun winter activities for seniors).

Pushing yourself or your loved ones to go out when it is too cold can be very dangerous.

Wrap Up

There are many different tips on how to keep warm in a wheelchair. Some people might need to use more than one method to stay comfortable.

Make sure to dress in layers, use blankets, and find a heating source that works for you. And always remember to fuel your body correctly so that it can generate its heat.

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