*Disclosure: This review contains affiliate links but I received no payment for this blog post. All views expressed on this page are my own and honest!*
The first heat wave of this summer has just subsided. Normally I love the heat, but now i’m a full time wheelchair user i’m seriously feeling it! Usually it’s the cold which makes me feel a bit on the icky side, but humidity is doing me no favours!
Asides for dressing for the weather (which with the changeability of the great British summer is a difficult feat in itself)
— at this point whilst writing my partner came up behind me and stuck half a dozen ice cubes down my back, stating he was trying to help me with my blog…I wouldn’t recommend it!—
As I was saying…
Asides for dressing for the weather (which with the changeability of the great British summer is a difficult feat in itself), there are a few tricks to keeping cool when using a wheelchair, or even if you struggle to regulate your body temperature.
Review my wheelchair have just written about the WheelAir – a new wheelchair back cushion which generates a cooling airflow to keep you from melting. Its currently pre-production, but if you like the idea of it for next summer, think about adding to their crowdfunding campaign!
I currently have a really sticky cushion. I decided to wear some (what I thought were) funky PVC leggings the other day. Heat plus sticky leggings and sticky vinyl cushion made transferring from chair to anything else a nightmare as the cushion wanted to come with me. Having a cushion with a fabric cover rather than a wipe clean cover makes for a massively more comfortable experience in the summer months. Cushions such as the Jay range are great but there are many others available.
This one should work for everyone – walkers, wheelchair users, scooter users and even those of you who use rollators. If you can’t hold onto your parasol whilst pushing or driving, Ram mounts provide a really good line of mounts for all manner of things – fishing rods, umbrellas, cameras, phones, tablets. You name it they can probably attach it onto your mobility aid! This includes parasols! They’re are some very kitch parasols – such as this gorgeous Purple Heart one. There are more masculine options too, such as this one. When choosing one it’s worth getting one with UV protection – just for the added sun protection. It’s also a great alternative for those of you with chemical sensitivities or MCAS meaning you can’t use sun creams. SPF clothing may also be an option – such as this very nice kaftan!
I don’t know about you but my wrist would fall apart fanning myself with a hand fan all day. Portable fans are the way to go. You may be able to use a ram mount for a portable fan for your wheelchair, scooter or rollator. I did search for one that you can plug into an electric wheelchair, but didn’t find one. Let me know if you know of one! Fans that gently mist you with water like these can be helpful too. Larger indoor fans can be helpful but are often noisy so no good when sleeping. There’s a lot of buzz about the new dyson range of fans, which although costly are meant to be both quiet and nicely designed. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper swan make a retro styled range of both desk and stand fans, which have been well reviewed.
The recommended intake is 2 litres a day. But this may differ depending upon condition. Water bottles are great if you have somewhere to put them! There’s a range of bottle holders on the market (like this one), but if holding a bottle with your hands is an issue then a water bladder might be an option. Camelbak are one of the most known brands of water bladders but there are also much more cost effective solutions – such as this one. The bags that come with them can go on your back (and are fairly light weight) or they should go on the back of most wheelchairs. Avoid caffeine – caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it makes you pee a lot. Caffeinated drinks can make you more dehydrated so it’s best to avoid them when it’s hot.
Not everyone likes a hat. Not every hat suits everyone. But I am a hat person. I collect hats. There’s never enough opportunities to wear hats without looking mega OTT. Anyway…in summer, straw and lightweight fabric hats are your friend. They can be wide brimmed, stetsons, fedoras, bowler, caps, the choice is endless. Make sure you get one in either a lightweight fabric or straw/buckram, so that you can keep your head cool.
Cool on the go
Frozen gel compresses are great for injuries, but they’re also great for keeping cool. Instant packs such as the Kool n Soothe are great for migraines and headaches but on the back of the neck they can be great for cooling you down. Larger gel packs can be put in the fridge and placed behind you when seated. If ice isn’t for you try putting a wheat bag in the fridge. It’s cold but shouldn’t be cold enough to cause issues with nerve pain. I swear by facial cooling mists such as this one. They’re always cool, and were my saving grace when I used to live in London in the summer months.
Remember the signs of heat stroke
Heat stroke is not just a nuisance, it can be lethal. Having restricted mobility or being unable to self regulate your body temperature heightens your risk. The symptoms include:
- Core temperature of 40 degrees centigrade or higher
- Reddened and hot skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast heartbeat, or palpitations
- Quick shallow breathing
- Feeling as though you’re drunk, confused or disorientated
If you suspect anyone suffering from heat stroke, its best to contact a doctor, especially for those who are chronically ill or disabled. The best way to avoid heat stroke is by staying in the shade between 11am and 3pm, avoiding sunburn, and keeping well hydrated.
Sleeping Without Overheating
Cotton bed sheets also help keep you cool. Many sheets look like they’re cotton but they’re actually 50/50 polyester and cotton. It’s worth spending the little extra for a sound nights sleep during the summer months. I know some people who will freeze their sheets before bed. I think thats a little too far for me, but its worth trying if the heat really gets too much. Theres a lot of buzz about the chillow. I personally haven’t used one, but similar products are available. Make sure you have a summer weight duvet. Summer weight duvets are classed as anything with a tog rating of between 4.5 and 7.5.
Things to do to keep cool
Spend time near water. I live in the middle of the country, about as far as you can get from the coast. But being near a body of water – whether that’s a lake, river, stream, sea or even a public water feature, is not just cooling but calming as well. If you can’t get out, how about having an indoor water feature such as this orb. Pets also seem to love them too! When outside, look for trees. They not only provide shade but they are more efficient at cooling than air conditioning! If you get really sweaty, try taking lukewarm not cold showers and baths. Lukewarm water can help keep you cooler, rather than shocking your body and causing your core temperature to rise.
Spoons full of summer
The heat can affect our energy levels making it feel near impossible to do much at all. Take the heat into account when planning how you’ll pace your day, especially if you have a condition which means it’s difficult to regulate your body temperature or you get dehydrated easily. Think like the Spanish and plan to do things during the morning and evening – the coolest parts of the day.
Even the lightest weight polyester is going to make you hot and sticky. Pretty much any man made material will also make you hotter, as will any animal-based materials. Plant based fabrics such as cotton, linen and hemp are the best to go for.
Here’s for the odd ideas
Hanging a damp sheet in your room. Sounds like an odd idea but it does help with keeping cool. It even gives you an excuse to be a big kid and pretend to play fort!
Ice lollies – they do not need to be expensive, full of sugar or full of other stuff those with chemical sensitivities want to avoid. Coconut water is a brilliant way to keep hydrated and it also tastes quite nice too. A little bit of lime as well and it’s heavenly! If you want cheap and don’t need to worry about chemical sensitivities then frozen dilute squash is a great way of making lollies. There are near limitless flavours and all that required is either lolly making moulds or these awesome ice pole bags. Pinterest is a great resource for finding ice lolly recipes.
Cool your feet! A washing up bowl of cool water (maybe with added essential oils such as tea tree or peppermint to counteract smelly feet) is a great way to cool down. Having a small paddling pool is even better!
Keep your rooms in the dark. Keeping curtains and blinds closed during the day will help keep rooms cooler.
I hope you enjoy your summer!