Musings, Wheelchair life

12 Ways To Keep Cool As A Wheelchair User

Wheelchair users can be cool dudes, but that’s not what this post is about. I’m probably not the best to give advice for that as I sit here doing crochet and drinking a brew from my china cup.

It’s got hot again. A bit like this time last summer. It tends to happen during the months of June, July and August. It’s a seasonal thing but seems to creep up on us every year and we don’t quite know how to handle it. Not very good at extremes us humans.

Sitting in a wheelchair can get hot and sticky at the best of times. Not for me so much, as I seem to have cold bones and poor circulation. But even I can say I’ve been a tad warm the past few days. I’ve even cut down on the hot water bottles!

Often people assume that because you’re not really rushing around in the same physical way that maybe a fit and able person does, you don’t get hot and bothered. You do.

Here are a few ideas for keeping the heat at bay.

An image to pin. Title text - 12 Ways To Keep Cool As A Wheelchair User is placed over the centre of a photo of bright blue clear sky. Tree branches come in from below and my face is peaking in on the left side.

Keep hydrated

This is important any time of year but particularly when the weather is hot. Drinking plenty helps the body to feel cool and we also loose water when sweating. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is good too, so they say. I aim for one glass of water for every tea or coffee, as this gets the fluids in at the same time as keeping me sane.

Especially on tea

There’s debate about this one, but I feel it works. And that’s not just because I’m a tea obsessive! It may sound the opposite to what you feel like doing, but drinking hot drink assists the body to cool down. The extra heat pushes the body to start sweating quicker. So, although not attractive, it will cool you down.

Move around

It’s easy to get fidgety when you’re hot and bothered. That’s if you can fidget. But if movement isn’t something that comes easy to you (like me), then just try to reposition every so often to cool down certain areas. It’s surprising how just laying an arm on a cooler spot can relieve the flushes for a bit.

Keep you wrists chilled

This may sound random but the wrist is a sensitive spot. If you can’t deal with a fan, or ice packs make you that bit too chilly (it’s surprising how temperature can fluctuate when you have no movement), then try cooling the wrist area to see if that helps. A mini fan, cool water, or just keeping the area exposed can make quite a difference.

Breathing techniques

I’m a nose breather due to wearing a bipap (non-invasive ventilation) overnight for the past 6 years and having to train myself to keep my mouth shut. Inhaling through your mouth, though, can be refreshing. Theory is that the saliva cools the air before it reaches the lungs. A bit like this bowl of water idea.

Bowls of cold water or ice

I don’t suggest actually sitting in them, although the odd foot or hand paddle is probably nice.

Having bowls of ice or chilled water around the room. Particularly by a fan or open window (breezy spots basically) can put a chill in the atmosphere.

Loose, light and natural fabrics

It can be quite cosy sitting it a wheelchair, but also rather claustrophobic. Especially if you have a moulded seat or gel cushion as I do. Arm rests, back supports and side cushions are crucial for position and comfort, but often feel smothering when the sun kicks in.

The bulk of most wheelchairs are black, it goes with everything, hides a multitude of sins, but as we all know, attracts and holds the heat. Wearing light in colour and material clothing can help to keep as cool as possible.

Keep the sun out

An all rounder and obvious tip is to keep out of the sun as much as possible. If inside and the sun is glaring through windows, pull the curtains or blinds and create some shade. Houses are generally built to be efficient at keeping heat in, so let at little in as possible.

Create air flow

Another obvious one, but have as many doors and windows open as possible. Get that air flowing.

Even when the weather is really hot I sometimes feel a little relief venturing outside into the shade when there’s a breeze going on.

Turn your hot water bottle cold

Ok, so this isn’t one I’ve tried. I haven’t reached that stage yet and probably won’t. The hot water bottle doesn’t always have to be used hot. Apparently it can even go in the freezer! This could be useful for resting on parts of your body if you’re unable to stick your head in a fridge. Because I’ve heard that works too.

Eat lighter foods

Eating actually uses a lot of energy, particularly if like me your condition can make eating feel like a work out. The moving, chewing and swallowing all needs energy and gets the body working.

Also as your body processes and digests food it uses energy that then heats up the body. Eating smaller regular portions and lighter meals can reduce overheating.

That full feeling can make you a little uncomfortable too, so it’s a win win.

Plan your day

It would be great if we could spend all the hot sunny days chilling by a pool with a cocktail or reading a book by the river. Sometimes, though, life stuffs still need doing.

If possible try to plan the day so that the more tiresome tasks get done before heat reaches its peak in the early afternoon.

I like nothing more than a warm summers evening, this is the best time to get those outdoors errand run if you can.


Are you a sun of shade seeker? How do you deal with weather extremes?

An image to pin. Title text - 12 Ways To Keep Cool As A Wheelchair User is placed over the centre of a photo of bright blue clear sky. Tree branches come in from below and my face is peaking in on the left side.

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17 thoughts on “12 Ways To Keep Cool As A Wheelchair User”

    1. I’m not a winter person, as when I’m cold I struggle with movement. But even this heat is getting a bit much for me. Storms due tomorrow though, and I do enjoy a good storm.

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  1. Can the next post please be about being cool, like down with the kids kind of cool? I think I need those tips!

    I am perpetually cold but I’m with you in feeling the heat these past few days too. I would imagine it tricky being in a wheelchair when hot if you can’t as easily move around, as you can get quite sweaty and sticky when in a certain position. Your fidgeting or repositioning tip makes sense and an interesting one on keeping your wrist cool, that’s a good idea. I suppose like with wearing a hat in winter, sometimes conversely cooling extremities can really help. I’ve got a hot water bottle on my belly at the moment but an ice pack on my head, and the cool on my head is quite nice. Now, the bowl of ice is genius! I know I’ve read this one before but I wasn’t sure whether you had to put a fan behind it to blow the cold around the room. I suppose you don’t have to but it’ll likely help. I wonder if just a bowl of ice in my car will replace the lack of working air con? 😉

    Although I can feel rather sick in the heat, I’ve got to admit, I bloody love not being weighted down by countless layers!

    Some excellent suggestions that will no doubt help everyone, especially wheelchair users. It also opens my eyes more to the challenges with the heat when you’re more confined. xx

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    1. I’d be no use for giving cool tips! Ha.
      I too am enjoying the not feeling all wrapped up and weighted down. Having little movement anyway, bulky layers make me struggle even more. I’m a warm weather person, even though I moan about the hottest days.

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  2. Great tips, especially the tea drinking one! I’m melting in the heat here, 40deg and up some days. My favourite thing is a cold shower, not always obtainable but feels amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate your passion while being disabled. Everyone goes through something, and all that matters is the will to see another day. This is not related to the post, but after reading a couple of posts you seem determined to not let your disability define you. 💯🔥🙏🏾

    Liked by 1 person

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