Stair safety in the home is an important issue often overlooked. Most homes and their stairs were built prior to new code regulations adopted from the International Code Council model codes since 2000. The efforts of SMA professionals in code reform and education have contributed to vast improvements in the understanding and interpretation of safer building codes. SMA professionals can inform you of what renovations are needed in your staircase to meet or exceed the codes.
TODAY Show Video
The report cited in the video below found "The number of injuries per year decreased significantly by 11.6% from 1999 to 2008." and concluded "Stair-related injuries are on the decline but still represent an important source of injury to young children. Increased prevention efforts are needed, including parental education and improved stairway design, to decrease stair-related injuries among young children.". Although the hype draws attention to the important issue of stair safety in the home it does not do a good job in promoting understanding of the issue.
The top tread depth issue shown is not a condition of the stairway position but improper finish of the floor edge without a landing nosing uniform to the tread nosings. All nosings must be uniform including all the treads and those at floors and landings. This is important to understand as you change flooring and carpeting in your home where it adjoins the top of any flight. Proper placement or replacement of a nosing matching that of the stair treads is essential. Learn more from a SMA professional.
In an effort to simplify, the TODAY Show video above fails to point out many of the stair features shown that are common in older homes built prior to current building codes. Lack of handrail continuity from top to bottom of the flight, open ends of handrails that snag clothes and carried objects, handrail shapes that do not provide graspable recesses, are now clearly regulated in the code.
Always use the handrail and teach your children to do so. Consider the possibility of installing a handrail at a lower height that small children can reach. Handrails on both sides of the stair provide an extra margin of safety not required by the code but especially helpful to our aging population.
Stairway Safety Gates
When small children are in the home, the SMA recommends the use of safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways. Screwing into the wall studs is the preferred method of attachment and will require minor patching upon removal when the gate is no longer needed. Building code reform will not change this as suggested in the video. Gate manufacturers offer many options to attach to stair newel posts and walls. Be sure to choose the one that is best for your conditions, install it correctly, or hire a pro and then...use it without fail!
SMA Stair Safety Curriculum
Stairway accidents number the greatest among children in the home. Still 100,000 per year in children less than 5 years old.
Stair Safety Education is critical to reducing the most common causes of all stairway accidents affecting the entire family.
Created by a team of educational and industry professionals this classroom tested program provides a needed emphasis and tools for results that will affect the way entire families "Use Stairs Safely".
To help educate both industry professionals and property owners, the SMA has published a variety of stair code books for reference. These publications are designed by experts to break down complicated concepts so that they can be easily understood and implemented in the field. The Visual Interpretation guides, for example, include clear graphic depictions of important stair code regulations related to stair safety, comfort, and more. The technical guides are also strongly valued by industry leaders for their high levels of utility. The SMA’s focus on education and resource support aim to raise industry standards across the board.
More Stair Safety Video
The following videos provide an upbeat, fun way to learn safe stairway use. Pay attention, stay to the right, and always use the handrail.