They can be pretty. But they can also be pretty dangerous.
When it comes to railing and window safety, there are some key codes to follow to ensure that your home or business are accessible and danger-proof.
In this guide, you’re going to learn about why you need to be aware of the dangers of your balusters , and how to prevent them.
Railing and Baluster Safety
What is a Baluster?
If you aren’t familiar with balusters, these are the columns supporting the railing that you can find at the bottom of your staircase. They are typically in a series from the beginning of the stairs until it meets the wall where the rail ends.
And they can be dangerous if not built properly.
To prevent safety issues from occurring, laws have been put in place to help keep animals, adults, and little ones from dangerous situations.
Current Building Codes for Balusters Spacing
The “golden rule” you’ll hear often is that the railings should be spaced close enough so that a toddler cannot fit their head all the way through and end up in a life-threatening situation.
However, the actual code requirement for baluster spacing is that no sphere with a diameter of 4 inches should be able to fit through any opening up to a height of 34 inches.
That amount of spacing may seem like it is small enough to prevent anyone from getting their head stuck, but still practice caution and supervise children when around balusters.
Current Codes for Railing Heights
Now, most of us have had a situation where we have slipped on a stair or two only to catch the rail to prevent us from falling. Luckily for us, that rail was probably made following the laws created to keep you safe.
Leading rails, like the ones at the bottom of a staircase, or rails that span the entirety of an open-stairwell, must be no shorter than 42 inches, and must include a guard rail to prevent those using the stairs from falling over.
How to Keep Your Rails Safe
Here are a few practices that you can use to increase the likelihood that you, or anyone else for that matter, will never be put in harm’s way due to negligence and poor railing construction:
- Always use vertical balusters. Horizontal and slanted balusters could be seen as an urban jungle gym invitation for little kids to monkey around on the railing.
- Do not place furniture near any type of baluster railing.
- If #2 is unavoidable, post visible signs to warn children and adults to not climb on furniture if it is close to any type of railing.
- The triangular opening of the bottom baluster near the bottom stair should be no larger than 6 inches. This is to prevent trips and falls that could result in much more serious injury.
- Inspect for any loose balusters to ensure that your railing is as safe and possible for home and public use.
Fix Railings Before they Become a Problem
Here are a couple of cost-effective, go-to, lifesaving tips that you can use in case you have any railings with larger than 4 inches of space in between the balusters:
Use a mesh or net lining to prevent anyone from being able to fit all the way through the railing.
You can use plexiglass as another strong, weight resistant barrier to prevent person, or child from getting stuck in a situation.
3. Wood or Lattice Panels
Similar to the plexiglass, it is a perfect solution to keep children and adults out of danger.
4. Just Add Another Baluster
Look at it this way, you get to replace or enhance the railing that you’ve had for years and now this is your opportunity.
You can contact your local hardware store for the items mentioned in this list, and finally get to securing your railing and provide a safer environment in any building.
How to Fall Proof Your Windows
I’m sure we have seen or heard of someone falling out of the window. It’s in the movies, on social media, in the news, and it is all too real of a possibility for those who don’t take the necessary precautions before something goes wrong.
And it is really easy to solve this dilemma.
Window guards are for preventing children and adults from falling out of the window.
There are even two types you are able to install:
- There are temporary window guards you can open in case of an emergency, such as an intruder, fire, or to let your uber driver know that you’ll be downstairs in a minute. These guards are for the first 6 floors of any building.
- There are also permanent window guards that you are unable to open. These should be used for every other floor above the 6th. This is to ensure that no one is at risk of accidently falling out of the window, or even able to pull a stunt to impress a couple of friends.
In the case that you aren’t able to install window guards, install window stops instead. These allow windows to open no more than 4 inches wide. Make sure you search around your local hardware stores for the best method of securing your window safely.
Otherwise, be mindful of the fact that window screens are not tools to prevent children and adults from falling out of windows.
Window screens are not capable of supporting the force a child can exert by pushing on it, and it definitely cannot support the weight of an adult stumbling by.
For a copy of our downloadable whitepaper on railing and window safety, click HERE.