In the UK, there is a fall on stairs every 90 seconds, with an estimated 250,000 non-fatal accidents being serious enough to merit a trip to A&E.
Although falls are especially common among older people, stairs can be dangerous no matter how old you are. And, usually, they’re the result of poor visibility, mobility issues, carelessness and poorly maintained staircases in Scotland, England and Wales.
So, what can you do to family-proof your stairs?
Read on to find out what steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones and how our staircase specialists can help.
Childproofing your stairs
· Install a safety gate
Is your little one on the move?
Fixing a safety gate at the top and bottom of your staircase will prevent them from crawling and climbing unattended.
The best baby gates screw into the wall and can’t be pushed or pulled out of place. They also need to be high enough so toddlers can’t climb over them and kept in place until children reach the age of 2 (when they can master the stairs unaided).
· Keep stairs free of toys
Kid’s toys end up everywhere.
The last thing you want your child, or yourself, to do is stand on something and it to break – but you also don’t want it to send them tumbling down the stairs.
Whether it be a cuddly teddy bear, toy car or piece of Lego, be sure to pick up any objects you see sitting on your staircase to avoid somebody falling over them. Better yet, don’t let your children carry toys when using the stairs.
· Fit height-suitable handrails
Most children are ready to start climbing the stairs at 18 months of age, but they likely won’t have the balance to walk down safely.
Teach your child to walk up the stairs, encouraging them to use the handrail. Always stay a step or two behind in case they stumble or lose their balance.
You may decide to install a supportive rail which is lower and narrower than the existing handrail, making it easier for youngsters to grab and stabilise themselves.
· Make sure the stairs are well-lit
Keeping your staircase well-lit, without excessive glare or shadows, will enable your child to watch their footing when going up or down the stairs.
They will be able to see the handrail – as well as any objects that may have been left on the steps.
Motion sensors will detect the slightest of movements from little ones – lighting up their pathway.
Making stairs safer for the older generation
· Consider a stair lift
Has climbing the stairs become a challenge for you or an elderly member of your family? Maybe you’re looking to future-proof your home.
Installing a stair lift might be beneficial.
These lifting platforms make it easier for passengers with disabilities or mobility issues to transfer between floors independently, whilst reducing the risk of slips and falls.
· Remove clutter
Mobility becomes more difficult as we get older, meaning that the need to keep the stairs clear of clutter is more important than ever before.
We advise homeowners not to store items such as laundry baskets, shoes and bags on the stairs as these simply increase the risk of trip hazards.
Where possible, the route leading to your staircase should be free from obstacles and well-lit. Speaking of which…
· Install lighting
If you or someone in your family is experiencing problems with their eyesight, making sure that the stairs are properly lit will help to mitigate the risk of accidents.
It’s a good idea to install light switches at both the top and bottom of your stairs, so you can turn the lights on and off, regardless of what floor you’re on.
· Upgrade the handrail
Most staircases in Edinburgh (and elsewhere) have handrails or bannisters on one side – but this doesn’t always provide enough stability and support for those who are unsteady on their feet.
Installing handrails on both sides of the staircase will allow seniors to maintain their balance, preventing them from falling.
Stair safety tips for pets
· Add a carpet or runner
Wooden staircases are incredibly stylish, but they can make it difficult for dogs and cats to find traction and grip under their paws – resulting in them slipping and falling.
Carpeting your stairs or adding a stair runner down the centre of your staircase will provide your furry friends with something to hold onto when they’re excitedly running up or down the stairs.
· Supervise them on the stairs
If your dog or cat is older or has health issues, it’s worth watching them when they go up and down the stairs to prevent injuries.
Observing your four-legged family member on the stairs will also help you catch orthopaedic problems, such as arthritis, hip dysplasia or ligament damage, before they fall or before they escalate into something much more serious.
· Train them
Some pups have great difficulty getting up and down the stairs – especially smaller breeds or dogs that have recently undergone surgery.
Although you could carry them instead of letting them navigate the stairs themselves, the safest option might be to block them off altogether. Consider installing a baby gate at the top and bottom of your staircase – ideally, one that’s high enough to prevent your hound from leaping over it!
· Improve visibility
A poorly lit staircase is not only dangerous for adults and children, but pets too.
A brilliant way to illuminate your staircase for furry companions is to opt for a stair runner in a lighter shade – one that will stand out when all the lights are off. Or you could add a strip of bright tape to the edge of every tread, at least until they familiarise themselves with where they need to step.
Enhance the safety of your stairs with Abbott-Wade
The team at Abbott-Wade have been renovating staircases in Glasgow and various other areas north of the border for more than two decades.
For example, we can re-clad worn treads and risers with non-slip oak or replace loose or wobbly handrails to ensure that your stairs are safe for your entire family.
If you’d like to learn more about the services our talented joiners provide or to discuss your project requirements in full, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.