Where you see a flight of stairs, children may see a majestic mountain that needs to be conquered. Falls can happen anywhere in the home, but by practicing stair safety for kids, you can make your home a safer place for your children.
- Stairs should be clutter-free, in good condition, and have a banister or handrails on each side.
- When children need to be carried up and down the stairs, hold on to the banister or handrail, and do not carry anything else.
- Carefully watch toddlers on stairs. Hold their hands when walking up and down, until they are ready to use the stairs on their own.
- Teach children to always hold onto handrails and not to play or jump on stairs. If they need help carrying things up or down the stairs, they should ask an adult for help.
- Never use baby walkers. Opt for a stationary activity center and place it away from stairs.
- Install gates that have been specifically designed for the top of stairs, bottom of stairs and in between rooms. Be sure to do this as soon as your child starts to sit up, as crawling and walking are not far behind.
- Use hardware-mounted gates at the top of stairs. Gates that only press against walls—pressure-mounted gates—are not secure enough to prevent falls at the top of stairs.
- For gates that need to go around odd-shaped areas, uneven molding, or drywall with no support behind it, you can purchase safety gate extenders or installation kits to get a secure fit.
- Mount gates less than 3 inches from the floor to prevent your child from crawling underneath. Check the manufacturer's instructions because some gates need to be installed at floor level.
- Accordion-style baby gates are no longer recommended, due to strangulation hazards. Make sure your baby gate is up-to-date, and meets all current safety standards. Check for recalls here.
- Remove the gate once your child has learned to open it, or tries to climb over it. If removing a gate is not possible because of other children in the home, use a gate that does not have gaps or notches that could be used for climbing.
- Keep gates closed and secured when not in use.
- Keep floors clear of toys, clutter and spills.
- Make sure carpets and runners are secure. Use rugs with non-slip backs, or if that's not possible, use non-slip rug pads.
- Floors that are wood, or have been recently cleaned, can be slippery, so take extra precautions when wearing socks and slippers.
- When cleaning, it is best to use non-skid wax or polish on your floors, and make sure to wipe up any furniture polish that may have landed on the floor.
- Avoid trips and falls by securing cords from phones, computers or lamps in high-traffic areas, by tucking them away or using cord shorteners.
- Keep hallways and stairways well-lit, and use nightlights to light up any dark spaces, bathrooms and children’s bedrooms.
- Immediately replace light bulbs that are not working.
- Keep flashlights with extra batteries in different spots around the house. In case of a power outage, finding them will be quick and easy.
Every 6 minutes, a child younger than 5 is rushed to an ER for a stair-related injury.
- Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital