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Stairlifts and safety: how to choose a safe product

17th January 2014

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A stairlift is a fantastic device to have in the home to help those with mobility difficulties, but many may be understandably concerned about how safe they are to use. Rest assured, however, that stairlifts today have a number of excellent safety features, and we have created a guide to the some of the best.

Your home

When choosing a safe stairlift, it is important to consider the setting first - your home. Whether you have straight or curved stairs or are even in need of outdoor stairlifts, there will be a mobility aid out there to suit your own personal preferences and your property.

Straight stairlifts can help the user travel up a standard stairway with ease and their soft start functions ensure that the user is not jolted on the ascent or descent of the stairs. Perch seats are safe and comfortable for those with limited knee or hip movement, and there are plenty of high quality stairlifts on the market which are developed especially with these needs in mind.

Some stairlift users with particular mobility issues such as arthritis can find an operating toggle to be particularly useful. This feature minimises mobility difficulty, as the user only has to apply the smallest amount of force and movement to operate the stairlift; simply press and hold the toggle and the stairlift will be under the user’s control.

Features

Alongside features to make stairlift use compatible with your home and individual disabilities, there are a number of important safety features that will contribute towards your choice of stairlift model.

Power cuts: Power cuts can be particularly dangerous for stairlift users and all others with mobility difficulties, especially if the stairlift user is already halfway up the stairs and the power cuts out, leaving the individual stranded; this is something that many who are looking to purchase a stairlift for their home often don’t take into consideration. Thankfully, stairlifts have come a long way since their first examples, and many now come with battery back-up so that, in the event of a power cut, your stairlift can safely transport you to either the top or the bottom of the stairs.

Elderly falls: The primary purpose of the stairlift is to prevent elderly falls that can occur when the user is trying to either mount or climb down stairs. There are a number of features on contemporary stairlifts to further guarantee the safety of users, however, such as a seatbelt to ensure the passenger is kept in position should they experience a loss of balance. Some of the best models also include a powered swivel seat and a powered folding footplate which, like easy to use rise and recline chairs, can offer that extra bit of comfort with minimal effort exerted.

Multiple users: For situations where there are multiple people living in the same home who are in need of the use of a stairlift, safety has also been taken into consideration. The best models include a clever control to return the stairlift upstairs or downstairs if there are two users, ensuring that no-one who needs it is ever without the use of the mobility aid.

Obstructions: In addition to these safety features, another primary feature that has to come with stairlifts - under British and European safety guidelines - are safety sensors that can detect if anything might be in the way of the aid as it travels. These sensors are highly effective, so all stairlift users should rest assured that their device will be equipped to the highest safety standards.

Make a safe investment soon

So, be sure not to bypass vital safety features when it comes to buying your stairlift, as these are a hugely important part of the chair’s design. Not only should stairlifts help those with mobility difficulties to continue living an independent and safe lifestyle, they should also help to prevent avoidable falls.

Title Image Credit: Michael Leslie (shutterstock.com)

Body Image Credit: jingdianjiaju (flickr.com)