The risk of slipping and taking a tumble can increase with age. The incline of the surface underfoot can also play a factor in the severity of a fall. So, if you have a staircase in your home, how can you ensure that it's as safe as possible for the older members of your household or even for yourself?
It's not necessarily going to be a case of having to replace an existing staircase, and some modifications will be all that is needed to make that climb as safe as it can be. What are some safety features you should consider adding to your staircase?
One Handrail Isn't Enough
A safe staircase needs handrails on both sides. A handrail on one side is better than none, and yet two handrails allow for even weight distribution, giving stability while ascending or descending the stairs. The integrated (outward-facing) banister of the staircase could even be enclosed, forming a solid barrier. This helps to prevent a foot from slipping underneath it in the event of a fall. If an enclosed banister doesn't quite suit the look of your home, think about safety glass beneath the banister. This prevents slippage while remaining transparent and unobtrusive.
Traction will need to be added to each step. Carpet is the most obvious solution, but this might not be the most aesthetically pleasing option for your stairs. You can apply a transparent, adhesive tread to each step or paint each step with a special anti-slip finish designed for floors. If you choose the latter option, remember that the finish will need to be reapplied on occasion.
Let There Be Light
Stairs are safer when the user can see precisely where they're going. Do your stairs have sufficient lighting? Add an additional (or brighter) lighting fixture as needed. If your existing lighting is adequate, its operation needs to be simple. Are there light switches at the base and top of the stairs? Adequate lighting becomes inadequate when its switch is not easily accessible. Motion sensor lighting on your stairs is another way to ensure they're always illuminated when in use.
Although a staircase lift can be a useful tool when someone's age and mobility makes climbing the stairs physically impossible, there are numerous modifications that can be made to a staircase when someone is still able to use them but might need a little extra safety.