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Stair Lift Safety


By Jason Tate

At first glance a stairlift might seem like a relatively uncomplicated machine. But modern stairlifts are actually very complex and sophisticated pieces of engineered equipment, with powerful motors capable of carrying heavy weights (people weighing up to 250kg!) up to 7metres. If used with care they are a godsend, allowing people to retain their independence and stay in the home they love. But if misused, stairlifts can be the cause of accidents resulting in serious injuries. However, remembering a few straightforward rules for the installation, use and care of your stairlift will ensure a long, safe and trouble-free relationship.

• Ensure that a reputable fitter installs your stairlift, this will avoid potential problems such as the lift being fitted to a staircase that is too steep for it. The professionals can also advise you on the best kind of stairlift to safely install if you have a particularly narrow staircase or a door close to the foot of the stairs.

• Make sure your stairlift is inspected and serviced every year. A service contract can be arranged at the same time the stairlift is installed. Again, ensure that your contract is with a reputable company, preferably recommended by someone you trust.

• Don’t try to maintain the stairlift yourself. Even something as seemingly simple as oiling the rail really needs to be carried out by a professional.

• Pay attention to error codes and report them immediately to your service provider. Do the same if you hear any unusual sounds or the stairlift feels as though it is operating differently (eg faster or slower) to normal. Stop using it until you are sure. It is better to be safe.

• Stairlifts should always be returned to their park position at the top or bottom of the stairs, avoiding it becoming an obstruction and ensuring the battery remains fully charged.

• Failed safety sensors should always be reported and repaired immediately, even if the stairlift is still operating perfectly.

• Don’t forget about the batteries in the remote control – check they are kept up to date. It is also good idea to have spare batteries stored somewhere close to the lift so that they can be changed quickly and easily if they run out.

• It is easy to get complacent and stop using the safety belt or bar, but this is just when accidents are most likely to occur. Make it a habit to secure yourself.

• The footplate must be down before operating the stairlift. Most stairlifts won’t work without the footplate in a down position, but some older models will.

• Make sure the stairlift is left in a folded up position when parked – this is particularly important to remember if you have guests in the house who might be using the stairs.

• Stairlifts and children don’t mix. Children can all too easily view your stairlift as a great toy, but the potential for accidents and serious injury is great, particularly with small curious hands and moving machinery parts. Teach them that the stairlift is a complex piece of mobility equipment to be treated with respect. And most importantly ensure that it is switched off using the key and that you keep the key in a safe place, preferably on your person.

• It’s a good idea to also lock the lift and remove the key when you leave the house, always making sure that you have a spare key hidden in a safe place just in case it gets lost.

• Never use your stairlift when there is another person on the staircase. This might sound obvious, but plenty of accidents have been reported for this very reason.

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