When Does Regulation Go Too Far (Or Not Far Enough)?

-cvs-rampIn Ridgefield, Connecticut residents were furious to find that the wheelchair ramp at their local CVS Pharmacy has been removed and replaced with stairs. Wheelchair and stroller users now must use the far side of the store to gain access.  People are outraged and encouraging the ramp to be put back where it originally was placed.

In public places ADA rules are meant to be enforced.

CVS corporate was not part of the decision to have the ramp removed. The town of Ridgefield claims to have “no jurisdiction over the privately owned property”. This is contrary to what the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) says.

(view full story: http://bit.ly/237zCUg)


On the other end of the spectrum…

4-yrolds-wheelchair-rampIn Lansing, Michigan a family who had a temporary ramp built for their 4 year old son is being told they need to take it down because it is too steep for ADA regulations.The boy’s father built the ramp with a private contractor as soon as he learned that his son would be temporarily in a wheelchair after being hit by a car in May, 2016.

The building inspector and township supervisor recently viewed the ramp and it did not meet the rules as interpreted by the city officials.  As a result the city condemned the ramp demanding that the homeowner obtain a building permit and rebuild the ramp.Their reasoning was was due to the father not obtaining a permit before the project began and that the ramp did not meet their ADA and state guidelines for a ramp slope. (view full story: http://bit.ly/1tsQf0F)

There are a couple of ways this could have been avoided since the 4 year old will only be in a wheelchair for a few months as he recovers. There is a clause in the ADA that allowed for what is called reasonable accommodation that takes into consideration the requirements of the situation, the space available, and the cost. Furthermore, the ADA was designed to deal with public access, not homeowners.

Homeowners have very different requirements and budgets than public buildings.

How is it that a public building does not have to meet certain requirements to assist those with disabilities, yet a private homeowner who is attempting to make accommodations for their four year old in a wheelchair are being told to have their temporary ramp condemned?

Are government regulations and compliances created to protect the well-being of residents or is it yet another form of control and service fees?

National Safety Month — 5 Areas Of The Home You Can Make Safer Today

To commemorate National Safety Month in June, HandiRamp recently launched their Residential Safety Hub, a new and simple way to find solutions to protect unsafe areas in and outside of your home. Ensuring that our homes are safe is a top priority for nearly everyone, from installing smoke detectors or guard railings, to security systems.

Let’s explore five areas in and outside of the home that can be potentially hazardous and how you can make them safer:

Make My Bathroom Safer

Make My Bathroom Safer Handi Ramp

The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in our home, especially for the elderly.

  • Always keep the bathroom floor as clean and clear as possible to avoid a tripping hazard.
  • Floor mats with a gripped backing secured in and outside of the bath tub can help reduce the risk of a fall.
  • Keep the bathroom floor as dry as possible (easier said than done, I know) as it doesn’t take much water on the floor for someone to slip and fall.
  • Installing grab bars, super poles, toilet support rails and clear people treads on the floor can greatly reduce the risk of falling in the bathroom. (Side note: do NOT use towel bars as a grab bar, unless designed to be both a towel and grab bar these will not hold the weight of a person which could lead to injury). Visit https://www.handiramp.com/residential-safety/make-my-bathroom-safer/ to learn more about products that can make your bathroom safer.

 

Make My Kitchen SaferMake My Kitchen Safer Handi Ramp

Kitchens can be hazardous for a number of reasons from sharp utensils to slippery floors, the kitchen requires careful attention for safety and contamination issues.

  • Wash your hands before and after handling food, especially raw items such as eggs and meat.
  • Clean the fridge at least once a week to prevent aged foods from growing moldy and contaminating other foods in your fridge.
  • Avoid floor cleaners and waxes that leave a slippery coating. They may make the floors shine and look beautiful but could lead to a slip and fall if too slick.

 

Make My Indoor Stairs SaferMake My Indoor Stairs Safer Handi Ramp

In 2012 CBS reported that a child under the age of 5 falls down the stairs every 6 minutes and nearly 100,000 children were treated in the ER from 1999-2008 for falling down stairs.

  • Keep the stairs clear of clutter at all times. That means no sports equipment, jackets, shoes, backpacks… nothing should be on the stairs besides your feet.
  • Be sure the railing is securely bolted into the wall or staircase. If loose, reinforce the railing as soon as possible as this could cause a fall for someone who loses their balance.
  • Install a safety gate if you have animals or small children that shouldn’t be using the stairs by themselves. Make sure the railing is properly installed and never leave children or animals unattended while the safety gate is in use.
  • If you have wooden stairs install non-skid, clear People Treads to help gain traction while walking up and down the stairs. This also helps pets who have trouble walking on slick stairs and floors. To learn more about products to help keep your indoor stairs safer visit https://www.handiramp.com/residential-safety/make-my-kitchen-safer/

 

Make My Front Steps SaferMake My Front Steps Safer Handi Ramp

The front stairs are usually the main entrance of the home so pay close attention to slip and fall hazards.

  • Make sure your front steps are well lit, especially in the evening hours. If the bulb burns out on your porch light replace it as soon as possible.
  • Guard railings are vital to have installed securely alongside your front steps. Even if the steps are not that steep it can make a world of difference for someone who loses their balance while using the stairs.
  • Be sure that the relation of the rise and run are average to avoid missteps. Average front steps will have an 8″ rise and a 9″ run to avoid stumbling.
  • Install non slip HandiTreads to provide more traction on the steps. If your stairs are corroded you can install Composigrip Stair Covers to help preserve what is still left of the stairs. This is not only a safe alternative but it is also more cost effective than installing a new front steps. For more information on products to help keep your front steps safe visit https://www.handiramp.com/residential-safety/make-my-front-steps-safer/

 

Make My Deck SaferMake My Deck Safer Handi Ramp

Decks can pose a slip and fall hazard, especially if recently varnished or the wood is deteriorating.

  • Splitting or decaying wood can pose a huge structural problem and could hurt someone. Replace aged wood when necessary.
  • Check that your railings and banisters are secure when pushed and that they are high enough so no one can fall over. Banisters are typically 4 inches apart so children and animals can not push their way through this space.

For a full list of products to make your home safer visit Handi Ramp’s Residential Safety Hub

5 Ways to Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance Costs

Homeowners insurance is necessary to have and is required by most mortgage lenders until you’ve paid your mortgage in full. It can be costly if you’re not careful, but it is possible to get the coverage you need at a price you can live with. Here are five tips for reducing the cost of your insurance without leaving yourself exposed with inadequate coverage.

Play it Safe

The safer you make your home, the lower your insurance premiums will be. It’s simple as it can get. Make your home safe not only for you, but for your guests and visitors as well. At least bring down risks of liability claims to minimum. According to CNA Insurance 59% of all liability claims are related to Slips and falls, while deaths from fall injuries increased dramatically during last 15 years. Also, consider adding an alarm system, hard-wired smoke detectors and deadbolts. Insurance companies don’t like to see houses with brush, dilapidated outdoor structures and other fire hazards close. Products such as grab bars and handrails can reduce homeowners premiums because they minimize the risk of and liability that accompanies falls.

Chart General Liability Percent of Total Claims

Chart Percent Deaths from Falls

Adopt Carefully

Many insurers maintain a list of dog breeds they feel are aggressive, and owning one increases your insurance premiums. Pit bulls, rottweilers and other popular breeds are often on these lists, so check with your insurance company before buying a puppy or adopting a shelter dog. If you already have one of these breeds, love them fiercely, as just about almost everything we love comes at cost.

Increase Your Deductible

One of the most effective ways to lower your homeowners insurance premium is to raise your deductible. This will increase the mount you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance coverage takes over, but greatly reduces premiums. This strategy can pay for itself over the long-run so it’s worth consideration. According to the Insurance Information Institute, taking your deductible from $500 up to $1,000 can decrease your premiums by 25%.

Don’t go Overboard

You need adequate coverage to rebuild your home and replace its contents, but it’s easy to overestimate the true value of these items. Remember that the purchase price of your home reflects its fair market value at the time, not what it would cost to rebuild the structure. It may take less money to rebuild than it did to purchase since you’ll already own the land. While it’s important not so skimp on your coverage, it’s a waste of money to buy more insurance than you’ll need. Excluding land value from your coverage may result in significant savings.

Bundle Up

Most insurance companies are happy to offer discounts to customers who hold multiple insurance policies with them. This means you could save money simply by getting your homeowners insurance through the same company that provides your car insurance. Shop around for an insurance company that provides good pricing on all of the insurance you need and see who is willing to package policies together for the best multi-policy discount. This is a simple savings method but an effective one, potentially reducing your premiums by 5 to 15%. Don’t assume every bundle will save you money though. Shop around and be sure your discounted bundle rate is less than buying two reasonably priced policies from different insurers.

For more tips on reducing your home insurance premiums, simply have a chat with your insurance agent. Your local insurance agents work closely with your insurer and will know what discounts and reductions are available from your current provider. He can also shop around for you to make sure your current coverage is still adequately meting your needs and decide if there is another company that my be able to cover you for less.

Author

Michael Rogers is the Operations Director of USInsuranceAgents.com. With over 5 years of experience and knowledge in the insurance industry, Michael contributes his level of expertise as a leader and an agent to educate and secure coverage for thousands of clients.

“What length ramp should I order for 3 stairs?”

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“What length ramp should I order for X stairs?”

It’s the question that should be asked when you first look into purchasing a wheelchair ramp. It gets you thinking about how steep that slope will be and how to make it as easy as possible on yourself or your loved ones.  Placement rise directly affects how long a ramp you need.

Here’s how Thom, our CEO, responded;

 

“This is not a simple answer. Here are some factors that should be considered: Stairs typically run about 7.5 inches high each so for three stairs a standard rise or height would be about 22 inches. The ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] recommends 1 foot for ramp for every one inch of rise. Assuming your stairs are a standard height this means you should buy 22 feet of ramp using the Government standard. The HandiRamp PAR (Portable Access Ramp) is the only portable ramp system that is that long. However, this system does not fold up like the shorter portable ramps. Some people will buy a shorter ramp using a one foot of ramp for every 2 inches of rise calculation and that will work fine for their needs. (That would translate into a 12 foot portable ramp.)

Other factors that should be considered include: The weight of the wheelchair and the person in it, the strength of the person assisting if it is a manual chair or the power of the wheelchair if it is a power-chair. To help you make the right decision I would suggest talking with an expert to help you understand all of your options. You can call HandiRamp and they can help you decide what is right for your circumstances. I’m guessing other vendors have people to talk with as well, but I only know what it is that we offer.”

Estimating by stairs can be tricky but knowing your rise is a key part to ramp safety.  Measuring each step and adding them together is one way to get a more accurate rise.  Or if you are able to measure straight down from the landing level as if there are no stairs.

We here at HandiRamp talk all day about rises and ramp lengths.  Give us a call, talk with one of our experts and let us find you the perfect size ramp for your need.

Schools Using HandiTreads

 

School-Stairs-With-Non-Slip-HandiTreads

A public school system in southern Seattle sent us some pictures of how they were using our HandiTreads. Knowing our product is being put to good use protecting students from slips and falls makes us extremely happy.

Slick stairs and walkways that are exposed to the elements are what we do best, since HandiTreads are easy to install and rust resistant, it was the perfect choice for them over the various other non-slip products.

The facilities manager, who oversees nine schools, said he likes to keep a stock of HandiTreads at his shop so he can quickly fix problem areas. Government buildings and even industrial businesses have begun to take steps insuring the safety of their workers and customers.

Our Vice President of Sales, Bill, took note of the amount of orders coming from Washington. “We have had a number of large tread orders from the state of Washington in the last month. Their damp weather makes our treads very valuable and beneficial!” We usually see an uptick in interest from customers in the fall months as people prepare for winter weather. The fact that so many where from a region that is known for wet weather is not surprising. HandiTreads may have been forged in the snow and ice of Chicago, but their non-slip properties carry over to many other work and home applications.

 

Have some HandiTreads you would like to show off? Have a close Slip, Trip and Fall call and like the share the story? We’d love to hear from you!

School-Ramp-using-non-skid-handitreads

 

HandiRamp’s Sidewalk Repair Kit


Tree growth and erosion are two of the most damaging factors in a sidewalks life.  Buckles, bulges and cracks can easily become a trip and fall nightmare.

 

Having a work crew come out to remove and replace the damaged sidewalk is expensive and time consuming.  It can also have side effects to your yard and surrounding area.  Ruined grass and divots from machinery.

That’s why HandiRamp has our Sidewalk Repair Kit.  An inexpensive, quick, easy to install alternative to having a construction company come out and create a mess.  Just measure the area you’d like to cover and give us a call.  847-680-7700.

Oh yeah.  Check out the video too.  It’ll give you an idea of how installation goes.

Large Accessibility Ramp Systems

Some of our favorite projects are large and custom ramp systems.  From engineering to installation; each bit requires expert planning and execution.  We just recently finished up one of our biggest project yet at the Art Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi.  The ramp had to connect a lower parking lot to an upper lot, all while traveling over a seawall. Check out the video here to see a time lapse of the installation.  It took 4 people 3 days. Luckily they didn’t roast in that hot Texas sun!

Last year we were asked to create a structure for Battery Park in New York.  Our guys traveled from our home base in Chicago out to the Big Apple for a few days to install the custom ramp.  Since this ramp is ADA Compliant, now everyone has a chance to check out the historic area.

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Not every large ramp we do is for government facilities.  Check out this one in Washington!  Three level to gain access into a back door.  Custom color powder coating as well.

 

Have a difficult entrance point?  Hard to manage terrain?  We can handle it.  Give us a call and lets talk!

 

HandiTreads protecting famed Zingerman’s Deli!

Zingermans2One of our customers recently sent us some fun pictures.  They were visiting Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor Michigan and noticed a familiar sight guarding an entrance. A dozen or so of our black powder coated HandiTreads!

The Zingerman’s empire started from from these humble beginnings in 1982.  Since then they’ve sprouted into a bakery, barbecue joint, coffee shop, candy and more earning $40 million in revenue annually!

 

 

 

Zingermans1

We love when people show us what they’ve done with our treads.  You can see just how much traffic this Michigan gem gets!  Check out the wear on that walkway.

If you’ve ever been to Michigan you know that its beauty comes with a price- that Midwestern winter.  Ice, snow and cold.  Makes sense that this icon would protect it’s patrons.

If you’re ever visiting ‘The Mitten’ make sure you check out Ann Arbor and stop by Zingerman’s.  Have a corned beef sandwich (my favorite) and step safely!

Zingerman’s website!
www.zingermansdeli.com

 

… and a teaser of that corned beef.

zingermans-cornedbeef-sandwiches

 

Holiday Visitability

As we dive headfirst into this year’s holiday season, it is important to keep your houseguests’ comfort in mind. There are several ways in which you might accommodate your visitors. You might clean the house before Thanksgiving or Christmas or set up an elaborate holiday display in your front lawn. You are going to want to make sure that you have enough food for everyone at the table so you’ll cook double the amount that you think will be eaten. These are all great measures to take in order to ensure a festive experience for all – assuming that everyone can get through the front door.

Along with the regular holiday preparations, it is important to make sure that all of your guests can easily access your home. What I’m talking about here is a term called ‘visitability’, or the degree to which one can easily visit your house.

 

Holiday preparations are stressful enough, but ensuring the visitability of your house is one crucial step that is often ignored until the last minute. Nothing ruins a holiday party like an accident to a loved one who slipped and fell on the front steps and broke her ribs because the steps weren’t properly cleaned or slip-proofed. Or the cousin who slips on a patch of ice and breaks a wrist as he helps grandma from her wheelchair.

These accidents are things that can be easily avoided with some simple preparation. All it requires is for you to put yourself in the mindset of someone with a mobility issue. While you are hanging up those holiday decorations, take a walk around the house to identify the best access point for someone with a mobility issue. Even if you don’t have someone in your family with a direct impairment, plan for the unexpected. You never know who those extra last minute guests might be and it is better to be prepared than to be unprepared.

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Once you’ve identified the best point of access, think of ways that you can enhance visitability without breaking the bank. Handi-Ramp offers a number of cost-effective mobility solutions, starting with our portable ramps that deploy in seconds and can be easily stored when not in use. If poor weather is on the horizon and might lead to icy, slippery steps, you might want to consider installing some HandiTreads to provide extra traction and slip prevention for all of your visitors.

 

These are just a few suggestions to get you started, but each home is different and will require a unique solution to the mobility issue. If you have any questions regarding the visitability of your home please give us a call at 1-800-876-7267, we’d be happy to talk to you. Let’s all have a safe and joyous holiday season!

The Rush is Not Worth the Risk

The other night I was helping my grandmother down our back deck steps after a dinner at our house. We got to the top of the steps – I was supporting her left side with my arm – and she froze. It was dark outside and the steps were barely illuminated by the light coming from inside the house. There was no railing for her to support herself with, just the three dark steps and me.

“I can’t do this!” she exclaimed, the fear starkly apparent in her voice. I calmed her down and waited for my brother to finish helping our grandfather into the car before he joined the two of us at the top of the stairs. With the steady support of her two grandsons she slowly but safely made it down the steps without incident.

Mobility issues can be difficult to fully grasp for those who have little trouble getting around; I see my back steps and think ‘I can jump down those in a single leap’, but to my grandmother they comprise one of the toughest challenges she faces everyday. It is easy to get frustrated with someone who moves at a slower pace, but the key is to relax and maintain a patient demeanor so you don’t rush them into doing something dangerous.

I made a mistake by taking my grandmother down the back steps of my house rather than the front steps which are well lit and feature railings on both sides that she could have used for extra support and security. I won’t make that mistake again in the future.

Stairs and ramps are an unavoidable part of our everyday lives. We often use them as a means to get from point A to point B without thinking of them or the threat they might pose to our safety. Instead, the destination dominates our thoughts and in our increasingly fast-paced world we often feel the need to rush. This is a dangerous game to be playing.

According to the National Safety Council, there are over a million stair accidents that result in injury each year. Unfortunately 12,000 people lose their lives in these avoidable incidents every year.

How can we mitigate the slip, trip, and fall risk posed by stairs and ramps? By targeting each of the separate hazards individually.

Slips are obviously caused by slippery surfaces, which are in turn caused by a variety of unpredictable conditions. Liquid spills, inclement weather, and deteriorating surfaces all contribute to an increased risk of slipping. Make sure that your stair and ramp surfaces are equipped with effective nonslip material. Our HandiTreads are a great solution to this particular issue.

Trips are caused by a wide range of factors that can compound to create a particularly hazardous condition. Make sure that your steps are free of any debris that might cause someone to stumble. Most importantly, ensure that your steps are well lit and clearly defined in dark conditions. My grandmother was terrified of using our steps because she couldn’t see them very well and was unsure of her footing. There are a number of individual stair light fixtures offered on the internet that can quickly solve the problem in the event that installing overhead lighting is impossible (see Pegasus Lighting). If you are installing these stair lights indoors on carpeted steps, make sure you use LED lights to eliminate the risk of an electrical fire.

Falls are the result of slips and trips but can be halted by a sturdy railing. Install a railing wherever it is possible to do so. The handrail should be between 1 1/4 in. and 2 1/4 in. in diameter. If installing a railing is out of the question, direct those with impaired mobility to stairs that are equipped with a handrail and use the other steps with caution.

And if you are helping someone with limited mobility navigate a set of stairs, remember to remain calm and patient. The rush is not worth the risk.