More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Wheelchair Battery May Be Security Issue

October 13, 2001
iCan News Service

Q: How might the battery in my power chair cause problems getting through security?

A: Because of Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, airlines only allow batteries that are sealed or no-maintenance.

Older "add water" batteries are corrosive and more likely to leak or spill. Also, under extreme pressure, these batteries can explode.

Sealed batteries don't spill and the newer gel batteries are chemically more stable. However, some airlines require batteries to be specifically labeled.

"A battery has to be clearly marked nonspillable," said Kim Poppke, policy analyst for disability issues for American Airlines. "The sticker must say the words 'nonspillable' and must be from the manufacturer or it (the battery) will need to be detached."

Before you fly, contact your airline and ask them what requirements they have for wheelchair batteries. You may need to call the dealer where you purchased your chair and ask for a manufacturer sticker.

If you can't get a sticker or if yours is a battery that is likely to be detached at security or before boarding, contact the manufacturer and get a copy of the owner's manual or the pages that pertain to the battery itself. In many cases, the manufacturer can send videos, tools or written instructions that make detaching the battery easier.

Lastly, learn how to detach the battery yourself. It may save you time and help ensure others don't damage your power wheelchair.

Pam Morenzetti is director of community interaction and travel expert for iCan . You can contact her at Related iCan stories Contact for electric wheelchair manufacturers Traveling with wheelchairs Airport resource list More Ask Pam columns

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