The staircase is an integral part of most homes. It is both an architectural and design element as well as a functional feature that allows people to move from one floor to another. We all go up and down stairways multiple times every day without thinking about what we are doing – it is an automatic process. While this is natural, the consequence of a fall on the stairs should not be forgotten. Staircase falls are among the most common accidents that occur in the home. Millions of people are treated for falls every year and according to the All Injury Program, a cooperative program involving the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, it is one of the leading causes of accidental injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms. A few simple precautions will keep you and your family safe when using the stairs.
Some of what follows may seem to be obvious. But it’s only when the obvious is highlighted that people realize that these are the things they have been ignoring. They may also seem to be unnecessary and being over-cautious. Most people realize that they make sense only after they have suffered a fall. Why wait till then? These precautions take no extra time, need no special effort and can save you from a trip to the emergency room.
Do not run up or down the stairs. The second or two you may save by doing it makes no difference. And you are not getting any additional exercise.
- Take one step at a time. Taking two steps at a time may be good exercise, but with a good staircase there is science that has gone into deciding on the height of each step. The idea is to make using the stairs as comfortable and safe as possible. Why try to bypass this?
- Do not read while using the stairs. Something unseen lying on a step could lead to disaster.
- Focus on the stairs, not on the music you are listening to or a conversation you are having on the phone.
- Look straight ahead when using stairs.
- If you have to carry something heavy, get help.
- If you are carrying something bulky, ensure that you are able to see over the top of what you are carrying and can see the step in front of you.
- The rail is not just for decoration. Hold on to it when going up or down.
- If anything spills on the stairs, clean it up immediately and ensure that the area is dry before people start going up or down again.
- If the staircase is carpeted, check regularly for any rips or tears in the carpeting that could catch the heel or toe of a shoe. If anything is found, fix it immediately.
- Never leave a staircase in darkness. Replace any blown bulbs or fuses immediately.
All this may sound like overkill. You and your family have used the stairs for years and nothing bad has ever happened. That may be true, but all it takes is one bit of carelessness to have a family member stuck in bed with a sprained ankle (or worse).
If you need to have the staircase in your home repaired, want to change it as part of a home makeover or want a special one to add to the look of the home you are building, it is always best to use the services of a professional staircase design, construction and repair company. A company with technical abilities and design skills will be able to give you a staircase that looks right for your home, adds to its appeal and is also safe to use.