Stair Lifts are commonly used to help disabled individuals get up and down stairs with ease. They’re commonly referred to as chair lifts because of the chair device that disabled individuals sit in while being lifted. Any disabled person, whether they’re completely unable to walk, or just in crutches temporarily, can safely and easily use a stair lift.
How Stair Lifts Work
With most stair lifts the chair is propelled upward and downward while attached onto a straight rail that runs along the stairs, usually where hand-rails are placed along the side.
The chair, or the carriage, runs along the straight rail being pulled by either a chain or cable. The carriage is often perpendicular to the rail so that users are going up the stairs sideward. Stair lifts move at a slow pace in order to ensure complete safety to disabled users, and are stopped and locked in place once the top (or bottom) of the staircase is reached. Some stair lifts have been made facing downward to accommodate people with severe spinal injuries.
Different Types of Stair Lifts
As mentioned above, straight rail stair lifts are the most commonly found stair lifts in public buildings. These stair lifts are simple and straightforward; the chair is lifted up a straight rail and stopped at the top of the staircase.
Curved stair lifts are similar to straight rail stair lifts, but a little more complex in the sense that the rail is curving and not running straight. They operate in much the same way, but are much less common because of their high-cost to make and difficulty to install.
Wheelchair platform stair lifts are the most complex stair lifts. Instead of having a permanent carriage like traditional stair lifts, these lifts actually transport the person up the staircase in their own personal wheel chair.
What to Look For When Purchasing a Stair Lift
There are several things that should be considered when purchasing a new stair lift for your home or a public area. The first thing to consider is safety. All stair lifts are slow, but not all of them have a seat belt. Having a disabled person tumble down from the top of a staircase would be disastrous, and a seat belt helps prevent it from happening.
Personal stair lifts should have a carriage that is perfectly sized for the person it’s intended for. Chair lifts that are too small or large can be uncomfortable, and even inoperable.
Controls on the chair lift should accommodate the needs of the person the lift is intended for. Some users may be unable to operate the controls on their own – In this case controls should either be handled by someone not on the lift, or changed so the person is able to use them. For people who are blind or have very poor vision there should be some kind of sound that lets the user know they’ve reached the top of the staircase.
Stair lifts come in all shapes and sizes, and can be made to fit the needs of anyone who is unable to climb a staircase on their on.