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How to Turn Your Wheelchair Into a Bug Out Vehicle

Experienced preppers know that bugging out is not the most ideal option for most people. If you are someone who has limited mobility or is confined to a wheelchair for part or all of the time, in most cases your best option for survival is to bug in.

And unless you have your own vehicle modified so that you can get into it and drive, your next best option is to set up an evacuation plan that relies on family or friends to help you get to a shelter or bug out location. But there are some emergencies that will render bugging in nearly impossible. For these emergencies, where bugging out is your only option, we’re going to discuss how to turn your wheelchair into a veritable bug out vehicle.

If you find yourself in a situation where you may need to bug out in your wheelchair, the first thing to consider is what kind of disaster or emergency you could be faced with. Is there a possibility of flooding, fire, or high winds that could impact your ability to control your wheelchair? If so, you may be better off to rely on a trusted family member or friend who lives nearby and who will agree to come and get you in an emergency.

Turn Your Wheelchair Into a Bug Out Bag for Supplies

Another thing that is important if you are going to turn your wheelchair into a veritable bug out vehicle is to have a good understanding of which gear and supplies you need to carry with you and how much those things weigh.

Additional weight on your wheelchair will have an impact and you need to be fully aware of how your wheelchair will function when you are carrying additional weight. The last thing you need is to bug out and find part way through that you can’t continue.

Consider using a wheelchair wagon which attaches to the crossbar on the back of your wheelchair to help carry gear and supplies if needed. Some of these are even designed so extra weight is evenly transferred to your wheelchair so you don’t have to exert extra effort to pull it.

Make sure you consider the standard list of bug out essentials plus any personal medications or supplies that you will need to get through several days or longer. Personal medical supplies may include things such as catheters, chucks, special dietary supplies, etc.

If a wheelchair wagon isn’t feasible, you may be able to use something like a wheelchair carry pouch which attaches to the back of your wheelchair. If you still need more room for supplies, consider side pockets that attach to the arms of your wheelchair, fishing vest with pockets or even a front wearing chest pack for vital supplies.

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Keep Your Wheelchair Moving

Another things that is very important if you’re going to turn your wheelchair into a veritable bug out vehicle is that you make modifications so your wheelchair will keep moving. In a SHTF event, roadways may be littered with debris or blocked with traffic. You may need to travel over rough terrain to get where you need to go. Consider ramping up your wheelchair suspension to make the trip less jarring and replace your regular tires with all terrain wheelchair tires.

If you have an electric or battery powered wheelchair consider a solar charger or if your budget allows, plan to purchase something like this solar powered wheelchair. Using solar power will keep your wheelchair moving in a grid down situation. Something else that could stop you in your tracks if you are using a wheelchair would be a flat tire. You can increase the toughness of your tires and reduce the likelihood of a flat by replacing your tire inner tubes with special flat protection inner tubes.

Plan Multiple Routes

Obviously, the best way to get from point A to point B in a SHTF scenario will be to have access to a vehicle that you can get your chair into to get where you are going. But just in case your vehicle isn’t working or you don’t have access to one in an emergency, plan out multiple routes to your destination that will work for your wheelchair.

It will be important in a crisis situation to take the shortest route possible so that you don’t tire yourself out or lose power on your wheelchair before you reach safety. Even if you’ve turned your wheelchair into a veritable bug out vehicle using some of the modifications we’ve mentioned, it’s still going to be a tough journey.

Depending on the situation, roads and sidewalks you normally use could be blocked, damaged, or flooded. It will be critical for you to know how to alter your route to go around any obstacles and still get to your destination.

Maintain Your Cardio

If you’re planning to turn your wheelchair into a veritable bug out vehicle, it’s a good idea to start now to do exercises to maintain your cardio and keep your heart healthy. This will go a long way toward improving your stamina for any kind of bug out trip you may have to take in the future. F

ind something that interests you that you can do, whether it’s wheelchair boxing, an armbike, or wheelchair aerobics, get your cardio in regularly.

Prepare for Murphy’s Law

If you’ve used a wheelchair for any length of time, you’re fully aware that when your wheelchair breaks, it can be a very helpless feeling. In a SHTF or other disaster scenario, you need prepare for your wheelchair to break.

You probably won’t be able to simply call the repair shop and get your chair fixed again during a crisis so you need to learn all you can about how your chair works. Practice changing out your castors and other parts of your wheelchair if you are able, so that if something breaks you know how to replace it. For any parts that may break, try to get the parts on hand and plan to carry them with you in a bug out situation.

Even if it’s something you can’t fix alone, if you have the part with you, there may be someone else with you who can make the repair if you tell them how to do it. For power wheelchairs, always have a backup manual wheelchair with you, even if you have to collapse it and carry it using a wheelchair wagon.

Plan for Self Defense

Unfortunately, sometimes a crisis or SHTF situation can bring out the worst in people. If you are planning to bug out in a wheelchair without access to a vehicle, you could become a target. Someone is desperate and on foot, may decide the mobility and supplies you have are worth fighting for.

As someone who is wheelchair bound, you may be seen as a weaker target and thus you need to prepare as best you can to defend yourself. If you are able to use a firearm, you should practice target shooting and have one ready with plenty of ammo in case you need to use it to defend yourself when you bug out. For many who are wheelchair bound or have limited mobility, an appendix style firearm carry may be a better option.

If nothing else, you may need to defend yourself from any scared or hungry animals you may come across while you travel. In the event, you aren’t able to use a firearm either physically or emotionally, then you need to consider alternative weapons for self-defense such as the ones below:

  • Electronic Whistle or Air Horn
  • A good fixed-blade survival knife (it will be useful in many other situations)
  • Mace/pepper spray
  • Neck knife
  • Tommyknocker or another blunt weapon
  • Stun Gun
  • Tactical Flashlight or pen
  • Keyring knife
  • Kubaton

As a wheelchair user, you need to be aware that most attackers won’t view your chair as the weapon it can be. If possible, roll your chair forward into an attacker’s legs. You will hit the sensitive area of the shins which is extremely painful. If your attacker doubles over in pain, attack their head, face, and eyes which are now at your level. You can also attack the head and face if an attacker tries to pin your hands. Keep your hands close to the body so your attacker has to bend in order to pin your hand.

It’s also important for you to learn to fight using your upper body strength and self defense weapons from the ground. Many attackers will try to tip you to the ground, thinking this will leave you helpless to fight back. If you train yourself to roll over on your back and fight from this position, you will surprise your attacker and have a chance to do enough damage to deter them.

Now that you know how to turn your wheelchair into a veritable bug out vehicle, let us know what modifications you will make or have made to your wheelchair. Share your plan to carry supplies and gear in the comments below. If we’ve missed something that you have done to make your wheelchair a better bug out vehicle, definitely let us know.

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About Megan Stewart

Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart. For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of six grandsons, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.

2 comments

  1. I absolutely love this article. So little is written for the elderly and disabled that I often think, they are to be left to die. But when I see things like this I’m so impressed. Way to go Megan 🙂

  2. Most people are not wealthy enough to cruise in a $3,500 pink anodized chair. So most of us have a standard $100.00 steel model do not dispair. I have been teaching people how easy it is to defend yourself with the right mindset and a little practice.

    If you have bicycle handle grips on the bar ends that allows someone to push you, that’s where the attacker want to grab you. I pushed a few thumbtacks through mine. Near invisible, the sharp ends will convince any way to let go. My friends know they are there.

    Another weapon is to take 3/8ths to 1/2 inch pvc pipe and heat and flatten one end, which goes over your break handles.
    Mine are twelves long and look like they are just break handle extensions. You can paint them to match you chair, or wrap them with ice hockey tape like I did. They actually pop right off and with a little real stick fighting training, you can stop a everyone.

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