How to Use Stairlifts Safely?


Approximately 30% of adults aged above 65 years have a disability that makes climbing stairs difficult, if not impossible. Yet, if they need to get to a bedroom or bathroom on the second floor, many elders will risk their safety to get there. Stairlifts are designed to overcome struggles with going up or down the stairs, providing seniors with a safe and independent way to move around their homes.

Many modern stairlifts feature cutting-edge design & modern materials with safety “built-in” to keep you or your loved ones secure. Below are some of the features that we recommend you check are included on your potential new stairlift.

Standard or multi-drive stairlift motor technology

Some models have multi-drive systems (with multiple drive motors). In the unlikely event of a single motor problem on a multi-drive system, you have the other motors to safely transport you up or down the stairs. If there is an issue the stairlift will indicate the error code on the chair display screen.

You can contact your service provider with the error code for repairs. In most stairlifts, even without the multi-drive systems the drive motors fully enclose the drive rail to ensure that the seat/drive unit fits snugly to the rail and cannot become detached.

During power cuts will I get stuck?

Most modern stairlifts have batteries so there is really no need to worry about getting stuck or stranded halfway up. The batteries will normally have enough power for at least a few more rides up and down the stairs, without any main power. So no – you will not be stranded in a power cut.

Mobility Stairlift straight at bottom of staircase

Obstacles on the stairs – what will happen?

With modern stairlifts, the seat occupant is always in control. If an obstacle is in their way i.e. washing, pets or objects placed on the stairs, safety sensors will automatically halt the stairlift. In the event of an unexpected problem, an easily accessible emergency stop button is always within reach.

Whatever the issue may be, modern stairlifts are designed to stop slowly to avoid any jolts or abrupt stops. Ensure that the stairlift you choose has this modern function as many older designs of stairlifts on the market will probably not have this feature!

Stairlift swivel seats – automatic and manual

A stairlift is pretty useless if you can’t get on or off the seat safely. Once they reach their destination, many modern stair lifts have the option of auto-swivelling the seat in the direction of the landing. The secondary benefit is when getting off the stairlift if anything happens i.e. dizzy spell or the user slips, the chair will be directly behind and can act as a barrier to falling. Some stairlifts also have a manual swivel option which is operated by a lever.

What if I can’t sit or stand well without support?

Some stairlift brands also have a “lift seat” which helps the user stand up at the end of their travel, similar to a lift/rise & recline chair. This can help those who have difficulty or require help getting to a standing position after being seated or vice versa.

A perching seat could also be a solution which allows the occupant to keep an almost standing position during the operation of the stairlift. This allows the user to safely step off the stairlift at the end of its run. These options are very useful for those with arthritis and other conditions.

Automatic stopping sensor

OTTO Curved Stairlift safety sensor

Battery powered in case of powercut

OTTO Curved Stairlift safety power

Seatbelts and Harnesses

For safety, the majority of stairlift seats are fitted with a seatbelt that can be adjusted to fit. Simple to use, they provide additional security when safely seated in the stairlift.

For users who have issues with problems sitting upright – some models of stairlift have the option of a 5-point safety harness which can be fitted to the stairlift seat unit and will stop the user from moving away from a vertical position. These harnesses are extremely strong and are usually made of neoprene so they are soft to the touch.

Related Reading: Choosing the Right Stairlift for You​

Non-Slip Stairlift Footrests

Many manufacturers now feature a footrest with an anti-slip surface, some with a textured grip to provide even greater friction. This ensures that you can mount and unmount the chair without the risk of slipping or losing your footing.

In addition to this, an optional powered footrest upgrade allows the occupant to fold and unfold the footrest once they have completed their journey. This can be done without having to bend down, simply with the touch of a button. Again some models have a manual lever to obtain the same result.

I’m downstairs but the stairlift is at the top?

New stairlift models will normally ship with 2 remote controls which can be affixed to the landing area at the top and bottom steps. This enables the stairlift to be called and it will come to you, rather than the other way around. So you will never have to try to climb the stairs just to get to your stairlift seat.

Stairlift Seatbelt

OTTO Curved Stairlift seat belt

Folded away

OTTO Curved Stairlift folding chair

Can a stairlift be a trip hazard?

Some modern homes have very limited space at the foot or the top of the stairs. In some cases, a rail may not be flush with the final step and actually travel further out into the hallway. This can be a major trip hazard so is to be avoided. If space is limited then request a stairlift sliding track, “flip up” or hinged rail.

This will ensure that the rail does not stick out from the stairs and removes the trip hazard. These special rails are normally automatic, powered and require no effort from the user.

Should I buy a cheap DIY or used stairlift?

Finally, a word of caution. Some stairlift companies have started to promote a low-cost do-it-yourself (DIY) stair lift that they describe as easy to fit. Once received and unpacked, most people will not have the expertise to know how to safely and properly install and position a stair lift. You may not know who to contact to get the lift installed and tested.

Retaining the services of a general handyman is also not advised, as they will not have the factory training to install, program or set up the lift according to the manufacturer’s requirements and also the stair lift warranty may thereby be voided.

Can we help?

We hope that the above points have shown you that modern stairlifts are built, designed & installed with your total safety in mind, not just for the user but others in the household too. The more automated the stairlift (with powered options etc.) it can be said that for those with limited mobility or other conditions, the safer the stairlift is – as they need little or no input or effort from the user.

Whichever model or brand of stairlift you decide to buy, remember that you should use the provided seatbelt or harness each and every time you use it! Dubai Mobility provides a complete range of modern stairlifts. Not being limited to one single brand means that we can provide the stairlift that is right for you and your home. We offer a free no obligation survey of your stairway, during which we will also ask about any issues that you are facing.

This will enable us to propose a stairlift that will be suitable and ensure that it will address the issues that you are facing now and may face in the future.

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