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Stairlift Safety Features

Posted by: The Stairlift Company · on 26th May 2016

One of the main reasons for purchasing a stairlift is to regain independence, as it allows the user to go up and down the stairs without the assistance of another person. This makes them ideal for use by someone living alone, although many people worry that stairlifts are not safe enough to be used unsupervised.

Modern stairlifts include a variety of safety features as standard, with additional options available to tailor your stairlift to your specific requirements. These allow the stairlift to be used safely and without supervision, giving you peace of mind that you or your loved ones are in safe hands.

Some of the safety features which allow the user to stay both independent and safe are detailed below.


Modern stairlifts come with a seatbelt as standard. This is usually in the form of a lap belt, which is adjustable to ensure a secure fit, preventing the user from slipping out of the seat.

Safety belts are particularly important on perch or standing stairlifts, which are often used by people who are unable to bend their hips or knees, to ensure that the user is kept securely in a perched or standing position as the lift moves up or down the stairs.

Locking Swivel Seat

One of the main concerns with the use of a stairlift is exiting at the top of the stairs, as this poses the greatest fall risk. A feature which can help to safeguard against this is a locking swivel seat. The swivelling seat allows the user to turn towards the landing and exit forwards, rather than stepping sideways or stretching at an angle to reach the landing, which could result in awkward footing or loss of balance.

The locking function of the seat allows it to be fixed in either a straight or swivelled position before the user gets on or off, so it won’t spin away underneath them and cause a fall.

An additional benefit of a locking swivel seat is that once the chair is swivelled towards the landing, it acts like a barrier, blocking the top of the stairs and making it less likely for someone to fall down.

Battery Back-up Power

Many people worry that they will become stuck if there is a power cut while they are using the stairlift. While stairlifts run on DC power, they also have a back-up battery power supply, which automatically charges while the stairlift is not in use. If the power goes out, your stairlift should still hold enough power in its battery reserve for 6-8 more trips.

Obstruction Sensors

All modern stairlifts are required to be fitted with safety sensors, which detect any obstructions in their path. If something gets in the way of the stairlift, such as a pet or dropped item, the sensors will cause the stairlift to come to a gentle stop. This ensures the safety of both the stairlift user and any pets or young children who may have run onto the stairs.

Stairlifts are also equipped with pressure sensitive sensors around the footrest, stopping the seat from crushing anything which may be in the way.

Speed Limiter

Stairlifts are limited to very slow speeds, travelling at between 0.16mph and 0.34mph. Modern stairlifts are also fitted with speed governors to ensure that the carriage does not speed up on its way down the stairs, preventing dangerous speeds.

Emergency Stop

All stairlifts are fitted with some form of emergency stop function or emergency brake, which should be on both the unit itself and the remote control or wall-mounted controls, allowing you to bring the system to a halt if necessary. As the travelling speed of a stairlift is very slow, this limits the stopping distance of the unit, allowing it to come to a complete stop quickly without any sudden jerking movements.

Pressure Sensitive Operation

Most stairlift models use a pressure sensitive method of operation, such as a joystick. This means that the user must move and hold the joystick in order to activate the stairlift. Once it is released, the stairlift will stop moving. If the user were to fall from the seat while in motion, for example, the stairlift would come to a stop once the switch is released.

Key Switch

All stairlift models will be supplied with a key switch, which must be engaged for the stairlift to work. Removing the key from the system will prevent unauthorised use of the stairlift, for example by young children.

Engineer Demonstration

Once your stairlift has been installed, your engineer will give you a demonstration of how it should be used, detailing all of the safety features and explaining what to do should something go wrong. It is very important that the user is confident in operating the stairlift before unsupervised use, so if you are uncertain of anything or have questions then make sure to ask your engineer, or get in touch with the company supplying the stairlift.

Optional Handrails

A variety of optional extras can be added to your stairlift, including handrails to assist getting in and out of the stairlift. These small additions can really add peace of mind for both the stairlift user and their loved ones, by providing a secure point to hold onto while getting into or out of the stairlift, or to grab onto should the user lose their balance.

General Safety Advice

While every care has been taken to ensure that your stairlift is as safe as possible, it is important to be vigilant when using the equipment. Make sure to:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions
  • Check the stairs for any visible obstructions before using your stairlift
  • Keep pets and children away from the stairlift when it is in use
  • Secure the safety belt when using your stairlift
  • If you notice anything unusual about your stairlift, such as jerky movements or an unusually loud motor, arrange for an engineer to take a look straight away

These safety features and many more are available across all makes and models of stairlift, ensuring the safe usage of the equipment. For more information about the safety features available, or to discuss any special requirements, get in touch with The Stairlift Company today.

About the author

The Stairlift Company

The Stairlift Company installs high quality stairlifts to help people with mobility problems stay in their homes longer. Based in the Midlands, The Stairlift Company serves the whole of the UK and offers a friendly and comprehensive service to customers.

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