If you have a loved one who is bound to a wheelchair, you may have recently equipped your van with a lift so that you can take them to their doctors' appointments. However, you may be nervous about loading them and their chair for the first time. If so, use the following tips for safely loading your wheelchair-bound loved one into your van.
Immobilize the Van
Before you even open the door and start lowering the lift, make sure your van is safely immobilized. Because the lift and actions involved in loading your loved one and their wheelchair could shift the weight of the van, you need to make sure it will not accidentally roll.
Turn off the ignition, take the keys out, and set the emergency brake. Also, make sure the van is not in neutral, since being out of gear may cause the van to roll if pushed with even the slightest bit of pressure.
Apply the Wheelchair's Brakes Whenever It's Not Moving
Along with making sure the van itself will not roll, take steps to ensure the wheelchair will not roll away on its own by always applying its brakes whenever the chair is not moving. This includes applying the brakes on the lift and once the wheelchair is positioned inside the van.
Also, if there is any time during the loading procedure that you need to walk away from the wheelchair, always make sure the brakes are on. If you are not within a couple of feet from the chair, you may not be able to stop it if it starts to roll.
Double-check All Safety Straps on the Lift and inside the Van
Another way to ensure the safety of your loved one while they are being loaded and transported is to double-check all of the safety straps on the lift and inside the van. Look for any cuts, fraying, or detached pieces to make sure they will hold.
Check the straps before you load the wheelchair, as well as after you have secured them around the chair. Tug on them to make sure they will withstand the pressure that comes with a sudden pull or shift as could happen while on the lift or while riding down the road.
Using the above tips can help you load your loved one into your van while minimizing the risk of injury. However, if you do not feel as though you can safely load and transport them, contact a wheelchair-friendly medical transportation service to arrange for them to take your family member to their appointment.