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Using And Maintaining Your Stair Lift Safely

May 1, 2008
Climbing the stairs has consistently been rated as one of the most challenging tasks for mobility challenged individuals. This often results in people avoiding their stairs, which in turn can result in large portions of their homes going unused. A stair lift is one medical device that has been developed to solve this problem and is incredibly popular. A stair lift is a medical device that is used to transport a person up and down the stairs. They generally feature a track that is secured to the stairs. A small platform or chair is then sent up and down the stairs resulting in what is in many ways a personal escalator.

The safety advantages associated with a stair lift are many, but like any medical device it is imperative that it is used in the manner it was intended. One of the most common mistakes made when purchasing a stair lift is regarding the weight capacity. All stair lifts are rated to safely support individuals up to a certain weight. Even though they frequently use incredibly strong materials, such as reinforced steel and special aircraft cables, they are still designed and tested for individuals of a certain weight. This weight capacity is often a reflection of the design of the system it self, but also the manner in which it is secured to the stairs. Stair lifts that support higher weights generally cost a little more, and this is one reason people sometimes 'fudge' their weight. Others may feel self conscious about their weight, or if they are buying it for someone else might not feel right asking about their weight. It is important that you honestly evaluate your weight requirements and include any anticipated weight growth. It is far better to air on the side of caution and get a unit that supports too much weight, than to purchase a unit that has an inadequate or borderline weight capacity.

There are several practices that must be maintained while using a stair lift to promote safety. It is important to never try to stand or move while the stair lift is in motion. Many units come with seat belts and if one is included, it is a good idea to buckle up. Since your stair lift will be traveling up and down the stairs it is very important that the stairs remain free from clutter and debris. It is never a good idea to have clutter on your stairs, but it can be very dangerous if you have a stair lift. The problem with clutter on the stairs is two fold. On the one hand if it interferes with your stair lifts movement, you could damage your unit. Many stair lifts have built in sensors that will detect most objects in its paths, but you should not rely on these sensors alone. The other safety issue presented with objects on the stair case involves people who walk up and down the stairs. A misplaced object can cause them to trip, and because the stair lift takes up a small portion of the stair case, it is much harder to avoid objects while avoiding the stair lift as well.

In regards to the amount of regular maintenance that is required to keep them running, modern stair lifts have come a long way from their older relatives. Most are designed with sealed drive systems that do not require any lubrication and will not leak. Even with these many advances, it is still important to follow any maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer. This is important because it ensures that the device will continue to function properly and safely. It can be very easy to follow the "If it is not broke, don't fix it mentality," but this can be incredibly dangerous if applied to stair lifts. Most only require lubricating a few points on the device and a brief inspection, so it makes no sense to take a chance with something that carries so much.

While stair lifts have been thoroughly tested to provide safe and reliable service, it is still important to use these devices in the manner which was intended. When in doubt use your common sense when deciding how to use your stair lift.
About the Author
Brad Brubaker is an experienced technical writer. For more information on used stair lifts visit http://www.a1-medical-supplies.net. They also have a large selection of new stair lifts and other types of home medical equipment.
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