You might not think of climbing the stairs as a risky endeavor, but you probably should. In the United States, a child with a stair-related injury is admitted to the ER every six minutes, and many other stair-related accidents go unreported. Luckily, these accidents are preventable. Educating yourself about the dangers of an improperly constructed staircase can save you and your family from future tumbles.
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Sidestep the Dangers of Your Stairs
3 Reasons Why We Fall
Environmental – Poor stair design, poor construction and maintenance of stairs, nonexistent or dysfunctional handrails, poor lighting, unsafe surface area.
Behavioral – Lack of concentration, carrying something, unsuitable footwear, unfamiliar area, poor decisions on how to modify the stairway.
Health – Poor vision, frailty, drowsiness, loss of balance, inactive lifestyle.
90% of stair related injuries happen during descent.
One in ten children who injure themselves on the stairs break a bone.
Falls are reported as the 2nd most common cause of accidental death in homes.
Poisoning – 34,000; Falls – 16,900; Fire – 2,900; Airway Obstruction – 2,300; Mechanical Suffocation – 1,500
8 Solutions to Reduce Risk
1. Repair loose or broken handrails when needed.
2. Avoid placing loose rugs on or near the stairway.
3. Repair or replace tread surfaces when needed.
4. Add up-to-code handrails to both sides of curved stairways.
5. Renovate stairs with a rise no higher than 7” and a run no shorter than 11”.
6. Avoid visually distracting patterned carpet and flooring.
7. Install light switches at the top and bottom of the stairway.
8. Add permanent low-intensity night lighting.
Resources & Further Reading
At Home, Bill Bryson
www.ccohs.ca; www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca; www.money.usnews.com; www.nachi.org; www.nsc.org; www.preparedsociety.com; www.reuters.com