Wheelchair ramps improve the mobility and independence of wheelchair users. However, winter weather poses many problems for people with mobility concerns. One major problem relates to the buildup of snow and ice on ramps. Slick conditions on ramps make them difficult and unsafe for people using assistive devices. Taking the necessary precautions can promote wheelchair ramp safety in winter and prevent injuries. Here are some tips to make wheelchair ramps safe for use in snowy weather.
- Use de-icing products – Using de-icing products that are safe for metal as well as concrete surfaces can melt ice in below freezing temperatures. Choose a non-toxic ice melter that is safe for children, animals, vegetation, etc. Using salt is not recommended as it can affect the metal surface of the ramp over time. Optional powder coating is available which will add an extra layer of protection from corrosive materials. Using magnesium chloride or calcium chloride is recommended on ramps that already have a buildup of snow.
- Remove snow using a thick bristled push broom or plastic snow shovel – A broom or leaf blower can be used to remove light snow and a plastic shovel for a heavier snow. However, it is advisable to avoid using a metal shovel as it can scratch an aluminum ramp.
If you are looking to install a ramp, choose a system that can address the problems related to cold weather. There are many options. Steel wheelchair ramps, for instance, have an open mesh surface, allowing natural drainage of rain and melting snow and eliminating the formation of puddles. Aluminum wheelchair ramps also come with anti-slip grooves or an open mesh surface that allows melting snow to pass right through.
If you are considering installing a wheelchair ramp now, make you choose one with an extruded skid-resistant surface. National Seating & Mobility offers high quality cold weather wheelchair ramps as well as professional support for installation and maintenance.