The Safe Way to Get In and Out of a Car

Stephanie Chong

Last month, NNV members and volunteers attended a training on Safe Navigation in the Community offered in partnership with Chevy Chase House and Fox Rehab. Meghan Boone, MPT offered a wealth of information that was too good to keep to ourselves! In this last article of a three-part series, we will address what you need to know about getting in and out of a car safely:

We often take for granted the action of getting in and out of a car. Most of us have spent our lives standing on one foot, while stretching out our opposite leg to get into the car. This action is quite a balancing act and not the safest way to get in and out of a car. This is particularly the case for people who are have a history of falls or are unsteady on their feet.

The safest way to get into a car is by turning your back to the car door’s opening and squaring your hips to the seat. Bend your knees and back in until your bottom makes contact with the seat. Once seated, swing one leg over at a time until properly seated in the car. This method works regardless of the height of the vehicle. Reverse these steps to get out of the car safely. This YouTube video demonstrates how to get in and out of a car, note the woman in the video holds onto the door, which is not recommended.

Many people who enter the car this way need to hold onto something for support. The car door is not the best option because it can move. The better option is to reach for the dashboard with one hand and the frame of the car with the other. There is also a device called the HandyBar, which creates a stable surface to hold onto.  

When helping someone into your car, make sure their walker or wheelchair is locked before transferring into the car. Before getting into the car, think about the height of the seat - to get into a lower car, it may help to stand on the street rather than the curb, as the drop down into the car is not as far; to get into a higher car, it may be better to get in from the curb to get a little extra height. It is worthwhile to ask the person their preference or to try different ways of parking until you find the one that is most comfortable.  If transferring in and out of a car is a problem for you or someone you know, a Physical Therapist can help.

NNV volunteers do not provide physical assistance with transferring in and out of a car. Members who require physical assistance to transfer can still benefit from volunteer rides as long as they have a caregiver accompany them for safety.

(Images from this article from MyHealthAlberta)

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