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How To Keep Stairs From Becoming A Death Trap

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Are you concerned that a slip-and-fall injury could put you out of commission for a good long while? If so, you have a right to be.

Slip, trips, and falls account for 15% of accidental deaths throughout the nation — second only to motor vehicle accidents when it comes to causes of accidental deaths. Seniors are particularly at risk of suffering serious injuries from a fall but anybody can fall victim to broken bones, injured spines, and traumatic brain injuries after a fall. 

Many of those falls take place in poorly lit and poorly maintained stairways. In order to avoid becoming a victim on a stairway of your own, here are some things that you should keep in mind:

1. Use a handrail.

Do the stairwells in your home have handrails attached? If not, they should. A sturdy handrail can drastically reduce the potential that you'll lose your balance and fall. Aside from giving you something to hold onto, handrails are a sort of automatic reminder that it's safer to go slowly up and down the steps.

2. Aim for better visibility.

Poor visibility is another major reason for mishaps on the stairs. Sometimes, the light in a stairwell is so dim that people can't see the steps below their feet, which is why the lightbulbs always need to be replaced before they burn out. (If you live in an apartment complex with a stairwell, make sure that your residential manager pays attention to this particular safety issue.)

Stairs should also make use of contrasting colors on the treads so that people going down the steps can clearly see where the steps begin and end. Patterned carpets that confuse the eye are another no-no on stairs.

3. Keep them clean.

A cluttered staircase is a deadly staircase. It became trendy, at least for a while, for people to decorate wide staircases in both public buildings and private homes with objects of arts and planters. That's a recipe for trouble, however, that could easily cause a fall.

If you're in the habit of setting things on your own steps in order to get them out of the way, try to break the habit — before you break an arm or a leg tumbling over something you've forgotten to pick up. In addition, stairs should always be the focus of good housekeeping efforts. Make sure that the treads aren't slick with any kind of spill and that worn carpets that have snagged are promptly replaced.

Unfortunately, even if you practice good habits with the stairs you control, that doesn't mean everyone else will do the same. You may still end up taking a serious fall on a staircase that's part of the common area of your apartment complex, attached to your parking garage, or part of the office building you work in every day. If you believe that someone could have done more to prevent your fall by taking better precautions with the stairs — or even just adding a handrail — talk to a slip-and-fall attorney about your case today.