For people with disabilities, and especially wheelchair users, COVID-19 poses unique challenges because wheelchairs are touched frequently and in many places. We’ve compiled the following COVID-19 tips for wheelchair users to keep in mind when taking care of their mobility equipment and the environment around them.
These recommendations follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but you should also follow any rules put in place by federal, state and local government to help keep you safe.
In addition to taking care of your equipment, be sure to also take care of you! Wash your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after cleaning equipment, as well as anytime you arrive back at your home after being outside. Check out our blog on proper hand washing!
And if you’re getting a little stir crazy, check out some tips for how to have fun with your family while sheltering in place.
How to Clean Surfaces
Because the coronavirus can live for up to 72 hours on hard surfaces, it’s important to conduct regular cleaning. To protect against the coronavirus, surfaces need to be both cleaned and disinfected. Beyond any type of cleaning you may already perform on your chair, you should also disinfect areas that are frequently touched.
- Surfaces can be cleaned with soap and water.
- Disinfect with EPA-approved wipes that contain at least a 70% alcohol solution, or other approved store-bought solutions. Do NOT use baby wipes.
- If you need to make a disinfectant solution, the CDC suggests using a spray bottle with one quart of water and four teaspoons of bleach.
Cleaning Components of your Chair
There are many, many components on a chair that are touched frequently – by users and caregivers. Here’s some things you should disinfect anytime a new person comes in contact with your chair, or you leave and return to your home.
- Head controls
- Mouth controls
- Head rest
- Arm rests
- Side guards
- Back of the wheelchair
- Push handles
Cleaning Other Assistive Equipment
Beyond your wheelchair, other frequently touched equipment and medical supplies should also be disinfected. These include:
- Any equipment that you handle or put near your mouth
- Oxygen tanks
- Steering wheel and door buttons on vehicles
- Transfer seats
- Medication or other items in your home
- A backpack or purse that touches your chair
Staying Safe When Going Out
If you are leaving the house, here are some extra precautions to consider.
- Wear a mask
- If you have plastic gloves, wear them when you are out of your home.
- DO NOT Touch your face with the plastic gloves and always clean anything you have touched after you dispose of the gloves.
- If you travel in a transit or taxi vehicle, do not touch anything metal and avoid touching anything except your wheelchair.
If you have a Home Caretaker
For those that rely on a caretaker, they should follow the same precautions and can help if you are unable to clean and disinfect surfaces yourself.
- Make sure caretakers have gloves on or are washing their hands when around you.
- Ask them to wipe down your wheelchair.
- If they are in your home, make sure they are disinfecting counters or places your (or their) hands touch.
- If the person assists you in personal care, be aware the virus is also in fecal matter. Gloves should be worn and disposed of when being assisted with bathroom use.
- If you are catheterizing, make sure you and your caregiver wash hands before and after catheterizing.
About Madonna Long: Madonna works as a disability advocate to educate policymakers and congressional leaders on disability issues. She is a mother to four children and lives life on her terms, despite a spinal cord injury. Click here to learn more about Madonna.