It may be a few small steps for you, but to a little child a staircase could be a giant leap or tumble to a serious injury. Each year, thousands of children are hurt on stairs and most of these are completely preventable falls. Whether it’s up to bedrooms, down to the basement, or to the front door, every parent needs to take steps to make sure stairways are safe for kids.
Here are a few tips for childproofing stairways in and around your home.
Gating your stairs is a top and bottom solution. If you have to run up and down the stairs frequently or with only one hand free, you’ll need a gate that is easy for you to use but impossible for a small child to open.
Avoid putting in a pressure mounted gate. They work fine for halls and doorways, but they can come loose if pushed hard enough. At the top of a stairway, that’s a downward tumble to injury. Instead, chose a mounted gate and install it properly, making sure it secured to a sturdy wall or bannister.
Also, install each gate so it swings away from the stairwell. This will keep the top and bottom of the staircase free from little bodies when it comes time to go up or down.
Even with the gates installed, you’re going to want to keep little explorers away from the stairs. Don’t leave them unattended when near the staircase and make sure they know it is a major no-no to be on the stairs.
This also means no playing on the stairs. Kids can easily leave things like toys, shoes, or items of clothing laying about. Those are a recipe for a nasty slip and fall. Restrict running up and down stairs and insist they hold on to your hand or the railing (or both) when they do have to climb.
If your home has a stairway with a door, keep it closed and install a childproof doorknob or lock.
Steps outside the home
Of course, you can’t lock up every staircase in the world. When you’re out in parks or public places, keep an eye on your kids when you’re near a staircase. For small children, don’t let them climb stairs unattended and hold their hand on your way up or down. This is also true for escalators. In both cases, they should also hold on to the hand railing – it’s there for balance and safety.