Snow-covered, icy, or cluttered stairways are a nuisance, but more importantly, they’re dangerous. According to the Home Safety Council (HSC), falls account for approximately one-third of all home injury deaths annually, and falls involving stairs or steps are the second leading cause of fall-related death. Stairs are particularly dangerous this time of year, when the heights and depths of steps are often obscured by snow, and staircases may be wet or covered in ice. You can help to safeguard your health and the health of those around you by familiarizing yourself with the following stairways safety tips, courtesy of HSC:
- "Use the handrail. (All stairways and steps, no matter how short, should have handrails on both sides.)
- Keep stairways and steps clear of all objects. Never use the stairs as temporary storage or for displaying decorative items.
- Install bright lights and on/off switches at the top and bottom of each stairwell and over porches and entryways.
- Paint the bottom basement step white to make it more visible. Mistaking the lowest step for floor level can cause you to lose your balance and fall.
- In homes with young children, use safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairways.
- Wear footwear with traction. Avoid wearing socks or smooth-soled slippers, which can slide out from under you on bare floors.
- Avoid carrying vision blocking loads. Carry a small enough load up and down stairs that you can see where you are stepping and can easily keep one hand free to hold onto a handrail.
- Avoid placing throw rugs at the top or bottom of a stairway as small scatter rugs can slide or the edges can become curled. If it is necessary to put a rug at the bottom of a stairway, make sure it has a skid-resistant backing and use carpet tape to keep the corners from curling.
- If you have steps outside your home, keep them free of ice and snow. To prevent a tripping hazard, periodically check steps and walkways for broken or lose bricks, cement or stone."
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