You've bought a mobility Scooter - Now where will you store it?
We’re in a world with an aging population, there’s no doubting that. As a result, those over 65 are looking to modern technology as a way of ensuring their continued independence. In 2013, a study by RICA suggested that there were over 350,000 scooters in the UK, growing at over 100,000 per year; putting today’s figure at a minimum 750,000 scooters!
RICA (formerly Ricability) is the trading name of the national research charity Research Institute for Consumer Affairs. Their extensive research into mobility scooters suggests that there are risks and issues associated with buying and owning these devices, which need to be tackled on a national scale. They include:
- Assessment - is enough help given to choose a suitable scooter and assess suitability/ safe use e.g. eye sight tests?
- Training - is enough available, particularly for road users? How can take up be increased?
- Design/build quality including safety/ technical specification standards - how can we ensure vehicles are kept roadworthy and second-hand products are safe?
- Storage - storing / charging in communal corridors/spaces can cause a hazard and safety issues
For us at Asgard, we are just as concerned about the storage of scooters as, not only are they a big investment and rife for theft, they also pose other risks when storing and charging them.
According to Bre, the world leading authority on all aspects of the built environment, there is a lot to consider when it comes to storing a mobility scooter safely. “As well as the potential obstruction to escape, there is now a clear and increasing body of evidence to show that mobility scooters present a fire risk in themselves, often while charging, which can result in the production of quantities of smoke and heat.”
So, what are all the issues raised when looking at storing a mobility scooter?
A mobility scooter is an investment. Averaging at around £400 for a basic model and over £4000 for top of the range, scooters are rife for theft. Unfortunately, thieves prey on the vulnerable and those fortunate enough to own a mobility scooter can find themselves exposed to the threat of theft if it is not stored securely.
- Weather Resistance
Most scooters are basically weather proof for riding around in poorer conditions. However, if continually exposed to heavy rain or snow conditions when stationary, they can start to deteriorate aesthetically, or experience technical issues and break down.
- Fire Regulations
Fire regulations control how a building is managed, where building regulations dictate how a building is built. Fire regulations require fire sterile common areas, which are basically corridors free from combustible materials and trip hazards. These rules are enforced by the RRO and the Housing Act which means that local authorities, private landlords and home owners should all be conscious of storing items in communal or shared areas when living in flats and apartments.
This is where the storage of mobility scooters can become an issue; not enough space within the home, and not legal or safe in the indoor, common areas. So outdoor storage is a must.
Being able to access your scooter is the whole point of having one; to maintain your independence. If you don’t have suitable storage that is accessible to you, then it becomes a moot point in owning one at all, as you would have to rely on someone else to get at it for you.
You should think carefully about whether you can manoeuvre a mobility scooter up your path or garden. Is it wide enough? Are there steps to the garden if you want to locate it at the back of the property? Additionally, ensuring that you have a storage facility with a ramp makes certain that you can ride your scooter into the storage area and secure it yourself.
- Fire Risk
Mobility scooters are a battery powered machine and as such, they do pose a risk of fire. Recognising the need for a better understanding of the fire risks from mobility scooters, the BRE Trust and Welwyn Garden City Housing Association (WGC HA) jointly funded a project to examine the characteristics of burning mobility scooters in May 2015. They concluded that “It is evident that a fire involving mobility scooters, within the confines of a corridor or stairway, will create a substantial risk to occupants since the smoke and heat will make such routes impassable and put at risk any occupants who open their doors.” Source
This further supports the idea that storing mobility scooters indoors is a risk and home owners should consider this when bringing their scooters inside their homes to store and charge.
So, What can be done?
The simple solution to these problems as a whole is to invest in secure, weatherproof storage that is tailor made to house mobility scooters of all kinds.
Your storage should be:
- Outdoors - a suitable distance from the home as to not cause a risk of fire but close enough to meet accessibility requirements