Avoiding slips and falls on stairways is an aging in place imperative and one that we take very seriously. Among the many hats we wear as aging in place designers and contractors, our fall prevention planning cap is a big one. As we age, stairs become a growing obstacle for many of us and a centerpiece of concern for safety experts. But don’t despair. We have a stairway safety protocol that’s simple, inexpensive, and effective in minimizing the likelihood of mishaps. Don’t stop using your stairs….just do so safely.
HANDRAILS TIMES 2. Most homes come equipped with one handrail per stairway. Want to be safe? We strongly urge you to consider rails on both sides of the stairway. Install them at elbow height and make sure they’re firmly attached to the wall. (they should support your entire weight without pulling free). The rails should stretch slightly beyond the top and bottom of the stairs so that they’re available for grasping as you begin your climb or descent. And the thickness of the rail is also critical; an adult should be able to wrap their hands entirely around it…keep the circumference under 61/4 inches.
GRIPPY TREADS/VISIBLE TREADS. Smooth surfaces like wood, or tile are slips waiting to happen. But there’s an easy answer; install treads made of rubber, or other grippy materials, or apply non-slip tape to each stair surface for secure footing. Carpeting also works well, but make sure it fits snugly, without wrinkles or movement. Low pile carpet treads are the best option. To enhance the visibility of each tread, put a stripe of contrasting color on the nosing of each tread. And don’t forget to check the overall condition of the stairs; fix any uneven steps, cracks, or protruding nails.
DITCH THE CLUTTER. It’s common sense; get rid of loose rugs at top or bottom of stairs and remove all objects from the stairway…shoes, books and odd pieces of clothing have a way of ending up there. If furniture on the landings is an obstacle, find a better location. Keep the stairway decorations to a minimum.
LET THERE BE LIGHT. Make sure your stairs are well lit with low glare overhead lighting that minimizes shadows. Place light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. Add some nightlights in the hallways and landings leading to the stairway. An essential rule of thumb: stairs should never be less well lit than the surrounding areas.
SOME EXTRA “STEPS”. Here are some other personal measures to keep in mind.
We’re a “CAPS” certified Aging in Place Specialist. We think stair falls can be significantly reduced by using the above strategies. If you have any questions about safe stairs or anything else aging in place or accessibility related, we’re more than happy to provide answers. Please give us a call at 604-259-9774 or email us at [email protected] And if you have any comments or thoughts about this blog piece, we’d love to hear from you
We work with seniors, people with mobility issues, and those who have sustained a traumatic injury or health crisis.
We are a fully licensed general contractor and specialize in areas such as home renovations, grab bar placement and grab bar installations, wheelchair ramps and handrails, senior care and independent living support.
Accessible Home Adaptations
and Construction Management
We offer complete bathroom adaptations and remodelling, including low and zero threshold shower enclosures, tub to shower conversions, walk-in tubs and bathtub inserts.
Our focus on accessible living extends beyond your kitchen and bathroom, and into your entire home with custom home adaptations. We are Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists.
We build custom wheelchair ramps and offer door widening services, as well as offset hinges. We also have porch lifts, chair lifts, patient lifts as well as other elevating devices available.
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