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stairsAny of us who have fallen down a flight of stairs understand how exciting it can be. Most of us have not experienced falling down a flight of stairs which is amazing considering how many steps a person braves during a lifetime. The reason for this, is there are building codes and safety regulations and friendly home inspectors about. Maybe you have come close when you stumbled or tripped but have been saved by a handrail that was ready to answer the call. Any flight of stairs with 4 or more steps should have a hand rail and step heights should be uniform. Our brains have been trained and are used to 7.75” step heights. If you take three normal sized steps and then come upon that top one that is just a bit taller, a toe will catch and only the graceful and quick of foot will avoid injury.

Windows at the base of stairs or at landings should be safety glass so that someone who falls down those stairs doesn’t also crash through a window and break it into shards. Safety glass is 4X stronger and if it does break, it turns into beads of glass like a car window. Sliding glass doors and storm doors are made out of safety or tempered glass. Look for little labels at the corners of windows or doors to verify they are tempered glass. A window 18” or less from the ground that is 9 sq feet or larger and any window 60” from the floor of a tub or shower should also be tempered glass. Very old houses or replacement windows sometimes are lacking when it comes to the recommendations for safety glass.

Windows are great for letting in light or a cool breeze, but also if needed, can be fire escape exits that can save a life. But, not if they are painted shut or too small. Making sure a home owner is aware of which windows are fit as fire escapes can save a life.

-Jon Vacha, ACI