Being Safe on Stairs

Home Inspector with National Property Inspections

If you have a house with stairs, it pays to be cautious. The National Safety Council reports 12,000 stair deaths per year, half occurring at home. Seniors over 65 need to be cautious because they account for 70 percent of the deaths from stair accidents.

A couple months ago, I caught my 4-year-old as she tumbled back off the top of the stairs. She had gone up and stopped at the last stair. She was in her own world when one of the dogs pushed past her on their way downstairs. She tripped. We have worked with our dogs to wait while we go up the stairs, otherwise there is a stampede, but some weeks we're better than others obviously!

Follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council to prevent falls on or near stairs:

  • Use proper lighting at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Make sure stairs are even and there aren't any protruding nails.
  • Attach carpet securely to the wood.
  • Handrails should be firmly attached to the base or the wall.
  • Avoid clutter on the stairs.
  • Walk slowly down the stairs-Never run.
  • Check with building inspectors in your area to determine safe dimensions for stairs and stairwells.
Building code requirements for stair depth and width vary from place to place and generally apply to new construction. Height it also important. It can be awkward to duck just right while going down the stairs to avaoid hitting your head. Older homes will sometimes have very low ceilings, a situation that is often difficult if not impossible to change. A home inspection can make you aware of these type of safety issues so that you can better evaluate your options.

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