Safety First: Essential Features for Child-Friendly Staircases

26 Jun 2024


Staircases are an integral part of any multi-level home, but they can also pose significant safety risks, especially for young children. At Surrey Staircases we know that creating a child-friendly staircase is essential to ensure peace of mind for parents. Here are some essential features and tips to help you design a safe and secure staircase for children.

Sturdy Handrails
When designing staircases to be child-friendly, it's crucial to install handrails at a height that children can easily reach. These handrails should ideally be smooth and have a comfortable grip to ensure that young hands can hold onto them securely. To further enhance safety, consider installing a second, lower handrail specifically designed for children. This additional handrail provides extra stability and control, making it easier for them to navigate the stairs confidently and safely.

Non-Slip Treads
Ensuring the safety of your staircase treads is crucial, especially in homes with children. Opt for non-slip materials such as carpet, rubber, or textured wood. Carpet provides a soft, cushioned surface that helps prevent slips and falls, making it an ideal choice for homes with young kids. Rubber treads offer exceptional grip and durability, perfect for areas with lots of foot traffic. Textured wood combines the natural beauty of wood with practical safety features, offering a stylish yet secure option that reduces the risk of accidents.
If replacing the treads entirely is not practical, you can still enhance safety by adding non-slip tread covers or adhesive strips to your existing stairs. Non-slip tread covers come in various materials and designs, fitting over your current treads to improve grip and prevent slipping. Adhesive strips are another budget-friendly solution, easily applied to each step to provide additional traction. Both options significantly improve safety without requiring major renovations, ensuring your stairs are secure and slip-resistant for your children.

Proper Lighting
Ensure that the staircase is well-lit at all times. Install lights at the top and bottom of the staircase and consider adding motion-sensor lights for added convenience. Placing night lights along the staircase to provide visibility during nighttime, reducing the risk of accidents.

Safety Gates
To safeguard young children, it is essential to install safety gates at both the top and bottom of your staircase. These gates serve as vital barriers that prevent children from accessing the stairs without supervision, thereby minimising the risk of falls and injuries. Installing gates at both ends ensures comprehensive protection, regardless of where your child might start to climb or descend. When selecting safety gates, it is important to choose designs that are easy for adults to operate but challenging for children. Gates with dual-action locking mechanisms, which require pressing a button while lifting or sliding the gate, provide an added layer of security. These gates should allow adults to open and close them effortlessly, even when carrying a child or other items. Features such as one-hand operation and auto-close mechanisms can enhance convenience without compromising safety. Thoughtful placement of the gates can further enhance safety. At the top of the stairs, ensure that the gate is positioned far enough back from the edge to prevent children from reaching through and pulling themselves up onto the top step. At the bottom, the gate should be placed on a flat, stable surface to prevent tipping. Consider the layout of your home and the typical movement patterns of your children when deciding on the exact placement of the gates. By carefully selecting, installing, and maintaining safety gates, you can create a safer home environment for your children. These gates provide a crucial barrier that helps prevent accidents and gives parents peace of mind, knowing that their children are protected from the dangers posed by staircases.

Even and Consistent Steps
Ensuring that the steps on a staircase are even and consistent in height is crucial for child safety. Uniform steps help create a predictable walking pattern, which is essential for young children who are still developing their motor skills and balance. When each step is the same height, children can confidently place their feet without the fear of misjudging the distance and tripping. This consistency reduces the risk of falls and injuries, making the staircase much safer for little ones. Moreover, even and consistent steps help children build confidence as they navigate the stairs, knowing that each step is stable and reliable. By maintaining uniformity in riser heights, parents can provide a safer environment that supports their children's independence and physical development.

Rounded Edges
To enhance child safety on staircases, it is essential to select stair treads and handrails with rounded edges. Soft edges significantly reduce the risk of injuries from accidental bumps or falls by eliminating sharp corners that can cause cuts or bruises. Additionally, installing edge cushions on both the steps and handrails provides an extra layer of protection. These cushions absorb impact, further minimizing the likelihood of bumps and bruises

Enclosed Risers
Solid risers are a crucial feature for child-friendly staircases. Open risers, which leave a gap between each step, can pose a significant danger to young children who might be tempted to crawl through the openings, risking falls and injuries. Solid risers eliminate this hazard by closing the space between steps, creating a safer and more secure structure. This design choice not only enhances the overall safety of the staircase but also provides peace of mind to parents

Balustrade Safety
Ensuring balustrade safety is vital for protecting young children on staircases. To prevent children from fitting their heads through the gaps, balusters (the vertical supports between the handrail and the steps) should be installed closely together. Additionally, it's crucial to ensure that all balusters are securely fastened and stable, so they cannot be easily shaken or removed by curious hands. This solid and secure balustrade structure helps prevent falls and injuries, offering parents peace of mind and creating a safer environment for children navigating the stairs

Teach Stair Safety
Begin by teaching your children how to use the stairs safely under close supervision. Start with a hands-on demonstration, guiding them step by step. Show them the correct way to approach the stairs, emphasising the importance of caution and attentiveness. Explain why it's crucial to always hold the handrail and to move slowly and deliberately. Establish clear and consistent rules for stair use and explain the reasons behind them. For instance, make it clear that running, jumping, or playing on the stairs is strictly prohibited. Explain that these activities can lead to serious injuries, and that the stairs are a place for careful, controlled movement only. By thoroughly teaching your children how to navigate stairs safely and establishing strict safety rules, you create a safer home environment. These practices help prevent accidents and instil lifelong habits of caution and responsibility when using stairs.

Regular Maintenance
Incorporating regular maintenance into your routine is essential for ensuring the safety of children using the staircase.  Additionally, regular maintenance helps maintain the integrity of non-slip surfaces and the effectiveness of safety features like edge cushions and handrails. This proactive approach minimizes the likelihood of accidents and injuries, providing peace of mind for parents and a secure, hazard-free space for children to navigate confidently. For detailed guidance on maintaining your staircase, including all the essential how-to information, check out our previous blog.

Creating a child-friendly staircase involves thoughtful design and regular maintenance. By adding these safety features, you can be confident your children can navigate the stairs safely and confidently. Always putting safety first is key when designing your bespoke staircases; and with the team at Surrey Staircases. We can discuss these aspects more in-depth, book a call with us by clicking here.