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Stay cool this summer, some tips for wheelchair users

The intense heat can be especially unbearable for people in wheelchairs. Here are some ways to cope.

Summer is at its peak across India. It is that time of the year when you do not want to go outdoors due to the scorching sun. For wheelchair users, summers can be dreadful for many reasons. For those who are unable to move out of their wheelchair, summers are always uncomfortable and irritating. It is extremely important to stay hydrated and take care of your health during this season.

Wheelchair users must be extremely careful of protecting their wheelchairs as well. Like for instance, keep the battery fully charged of your wheelchair, avoid extreme heat outdoors and clean the wheelchair regularly. You can also go an extra mile by maybe investing on a canopy as well.

Sindhu Sudevan, a wheelchair user from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, says that summers are the time when wheelchair users have to be extra cautious about their health. Sindhu, who is also a part of NGO's and support groups says that she has come across many wheelchair users who undergo lot of health problems during this season.

Even for a person without any disabilities summers are dreadful. If you are a wheelchair user, make sure that you engage in some activities while you are on your wheelchair. At least, keep pushing yourself. Try and reduce travelling during this time. It is necessary to drink lots of water to stay away from urinary infections and other health hazards. I have seen wheelchair users from economically backward families struggling to survive during summers due to lack of availability of drinking water and basic facilities. It is high time that the government steps forward to do something for them. - Sindhu Sudevan, Wheelchair user

Here are some summer tips for wheelchair users

  • Stay hydrated- This is one of the most important things to take care of during summers. Drinking water will help you to be hydrated and stay away from heat strokes as well. In case you have to go outdoors, carry a water bottle with you so that you do not have to rely on outside sources. Experts point out that it is important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. But during summer, you can double your water intake for smooth functioning of your body. You can also add to your body water content by drinking fresh juices too.
  • Protect yourself from the sun- Ensure that you stay away from the sun as much as possible. It can cause various health problems like heat strokes, dehydration and so on. If you have to get out into the sun, wear sunscreen to protect your skin. You can carry an umbrella to beat the heat or wear gloves for extra protection. Apart from causing health hazards, excessive heat can damage wheelchairs as well. Most wheelchairs are made of plastic that becomes extremely hot when exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Dress appropriately- Summer is the season when cotton clothes are in. If you are someone who loves to follow latest trends, try and keep it low for a while. If is indeed nice to look great in your best clothes. But wearing heavy clothes and jewellery can be exhausting during summers. Cotton clothes are easy to wear, cheap and can be washed and dried without hassles. Try and wear loose clothes throughout the day so that you feel cooler.
  • Clean your wheelchair- Your wheelchair is prone to a lot of dust and outside dirt during summer. Most of the times, you might even forget to clean it. Ensure that you clean your wheelchair every alternate day during summer. You can use a damp cloth to wipe across your wheelchair. Clean the wheels and surrounding areas as well. If you do not clean your wheelchair on regular intervals, dirt will accumulate which will make things more difficult for you. Eventually, this can damage your wheelchair as well.

Pulkit Sharma, a wheelchair user and accessibility reviewer of hotels says that summer is the time he indulges in some homemade drinks which helps him to stay hydrated.

"Since we are from Himachal Pradesh, my parents always suggest the Himachali Khatta for summers. We also make a desi drink called aam panna to beat the heat. If I have to go outdoors for work, I ensure that I carry my water bottle with me. I never go out on an empty stomach, says Sharma.

ALSO READ: Stay healthy & fit in a wheelchair. Here's how

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