For those with mobility issues that require the use of a wheelchair, the installation of a vertical platform lift can mean accessibility to otherwise inaccessible homes. These types of lifts are usually installed outside or in a garage. The user can simply roll onto the platform, push a button, rise to the level of the entryway, and then simply rolloff.
While aluminum ramps and stairlifts are most often the perfect solutions for the majority of homes, there are times that vertical platform lifts make great solutions when a ramp or stair lift will not be functional in unique circumstances for individual users and homes. This can include:
Safety When Using the Vertical Lift
To prevent users from rolling off the platform during travel up or down, the short access ramp folds up for safety, becoming an enclosed wall during travel. Standard lifts will allow for up to 6 feet of travel. Special order units can now traverse up to 14 feet. A control panel on the lift will have an emergency stop switch. Also, there is a key switch that controls the power to the unit. Without a key being used to turn the unit on, the lift will not work. This can bring peace of mind by not having to worry about unauthorized users or children playing with the lift.
There are built-in safety features for injury prevention. One example is the safety pan under the lift will automatically stop the lift if touched. This is a safety measure to prevent objects, kids, and pets from being crushed by the lift when it lowers.
Another safety feature you may consider is installing a gate (self-closing/latching is best) that will cover the unprotected drop off the porch.
All Weather Unit
These lifts are made to be used in all weather conditions. The only issue that may arise in Rhode Island is that snow that builds up under the unit if it is left in its ‘up’ position. Snow may drift under the platform and the safety will not allow the unit to move down. There is an easy fix: Simply lower the unit to prevent this buildup.
Call and send switches that are installed at both the top or bottom can be a handy tool if two different individuals use the lift, especially in adverse weather conditions.
Permit or Construction Considerations
A 4-inch deep concrete pad must be poured, upon which the lift will sit. For this reason, lift installation in a garage is often very convenient due to the pre-existing concrete ground. Local laws will dictate if you need a permit. The pad itself should be approximately 5-foot x 8-foot in order to support the lift and also to provide a smooth area for the wheelchair to roll onto. A slight slope to the pad will prevent water puddling. This is important in the winter as freezing can cause lifting of the platform.