Can electric wheelchairs get wet? Can they be used in the rain?
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An electric wheelchair can give its user a lot of extra freedom. This is freedom that they would not necessarily get from other mobility aids.
Due to being motorised they are easier to use than a self-propelled wheelchair. Plus, they are also small and compact, with a tight turning circle that you will not get from a mobility scooter. This means they are perfect for indoor and outdoor use.
However, one question we often get, is can electric wheelchairs get wet? The answer to this in most cases is no, electric wheelchairs are not usually designed to be used in wet conditions. With that said, most electric wheelchairs will be splash resistant and will be fine if you get caught in a light shower, or accidentally run through a puddle.
Ideally, you should try to avoid going out in your chair when the weather is bad and if there is a big puddle, try to maneuver around it.
What damage can water cause to your electric wheelchair?
Water can cause several problems for your wheelchair. Most of these are going to be issues that do not become apparent right away.
For example, some potential issues that could arise after prolonged exposure to water and damp can be see below:
- Corrosion to electrical components in the chair. This is something that could build up overtime and may eventually cause the electric and mechanical parts of your chair to fail.
- Rust to the frame and mechanical components. This is another issue that could slowly build up over time. If your chair is regularly getting wet and not being dried sufficiently, eventually it could start to rust.
- Mold on upholstery. This one will not stop your chair from working, but it is a common problem. It is usually caused by not properly drying the damp upholstery of your wheelchair. This is another problem that can quite easily creep up on you and it could result in needing to replace the seat and cushions on your wheelchair.
These are all problems that can happen overtime. But what about more immediate problems?
The main issue here is your wheelchair getting so wet that it shorts out when you are using it. And yes, this can happen.
The motor and controls of your electric wheelchair will be splash proof and for the most part they will be able to handle a small amount of rain. However, we live in the UK and it does like to rain here. If you do get caught in a bad shower there is a small chance you could have problems with your wheelchair.
What to do if your electric wheelchair gets wet?
Your wheelchair is going to get wet from time to time. It is almost completely unavoidable. Especially with our weather here in the UK. The main thing to remember is most of the problems that can occur, are likely to happen over a prolonged period.
The best way to avoid issues like corrosion, rust and moldy upholstery, is to maintain and look after your chair.
If your wheelchair does get wet, make sure you follow the steps below to help avoid any of the issues we mentioned.
- Take a towel and dry your wheelchair. Try to make sure you get into all the important areas. As well as any nooks and crannies that water could easily hide.
- Store the wheelchair somewhere warm, where it can fully dry out before it’s next used.
- Remove the battery and thoroughly dry. We also advise storing your battery separately. Ideally this would be somewhere cooler. The lithium-ion batteries used in most electric wheelchairs, suffer from stress when exposed to heat. So this will also help to make your batteries last longer.
Ways to prevent your wheelchair from getting wet
So far, we have discussed what you should do if your wheelchair does get wet. But it is also important that you do try and prevent too much exposure to water.
Let’s face it you want to protect your wheelchair. Plus, who wants to spend most of their time cleaning and drying their wheelchair after it gets wet?
Below are a few things you can do to try and avoid getting your wheelchair wet:
- Keep an eye on the weather. If you know it is likely to rain, then it might be a good idea to avoid going out.
- Make a conscious effort to avoid puddles, or areas where you know there are likely to be puddles. This might mean taking a different route. Or having to double back to cross the road and avoid a big puddle.
- If you think there is a chance of rain, maybe try not going too far from home. Or go somewhere where you know there is a way to get out of the rain.
- Finally if it does rain, try your best to get under cover and wait to see if the rain passes.
Ways to protect your wheelchair
There are times when the rain is unavoidable. There are also times when getting out of the rain will not be an option. So what should you do in these situations?
The best thing you can do when the rain is unavoidable is to take some precautions to waterproof your wheelchair.
There are a number of cheap, simple, waterproof covers that can help you keep you and your chair dry. Below you can see a few waterproofing options you can use with your wheelchair:
- Wheelchair rain capes and ponchos. This is a very simple solution and not only does it keep your chair dry, but it also covers your whole body. Most also come with a hood, so you can completely protect you and your chair from the rain.
You can see a really good example of a waterproof wheelchair poncho here.
- Another option is a waterproof joystick cover. These are pretty simple, they just slot over the joystick on your armrest and secure with Velcro.
Either of these will give some extra protection against the weather. In our opinion the poncho is probably the best bet. Its small, lightweight and can be deployed very easily. Plus it completely covers you and the chair.
So can an electric wheelchairs get wet? Ideally you want to avoid it. But hopefully this article has given you some of the precautions you can take.
If you follow the recommendations in this guide, then you are far less likely to have issue with wet and your electric wheelchair.
We hope you found this information useful. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below