Tips for making your stairs childproof

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Stairs in poor condition are more dangerous than they appear, regardless of their safety features. The age of your home obviously impacts the condition of your staircase. Loose steps and railings indicate the need for an immediate construction project, but there are other considerations, such as the condition of your carpeting or runners.

Assuming you can’t rebuild or renovate your staircase, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk without major work. The CDC has a guide for stair inspection. Although primarily focused on workplace stairs, you can use the tips for your home. Minimize the risk of falling from short stairs by painting them a noticeably different color or installing accent lighting. For stairs with less than 7 feet of vertical clearance (clear height), paint the ceiling or exposed pipes a high-visibility color to make obstructions stand out. Fix or replace loose treads that can be a tripping hazard. If the tread depth is too shallow, it is essential to keep the stairs free of clutter and debris. If your stair nosings aren’t prominent enough, paint them a contrasting color and fasten any loose railings securely. While this can be a do-it-yourself project with enough time and care, it can be a job best left to the professionals. Remove (by sanding, for example) any protrusions or burrs that could snag skin or clothing.

Problems with the condition of stairs are more common among people with fewer financial resources. Since parents in these situations are already aware of and agree with the various stair safety measures (via SAGE Journals), the main obstacle is access to safety devices and repairs. If necessary, consult friends, family, churches and local government organizations for help in making stairs as safe as possible for children.

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