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SAFETY: Elderly & Veterans Home Safety
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SPLITS & CRACKS in STRUCTURAL WOOD BEAMS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
WOOD FLOOR DAMAGE
Basement entry stairs, steps, handrails: this document describes details for constructing, repairing, or inspecting basement stairs, railings, landings, treads, exterior entries to basements, basement stairwell covers & drains, and related conditions for safety and proper construction. We also include references to stair codes and stair and railing safety.
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Our photographs above show at right a typical basement entry stair with an open railing - a child hazard - and at above left, a twisting, canted narrow, no-railing basement stairway in a pre-1900 home.
The steps in the photo at above right are dangerous because they lean, have worn stair treads, damaged and loose stair treads.
As our photos just above show, these old basement stairs look worse when inspected from underneath, where the inspector can observe: rotted stair risers, treads, and stringer along the basement foundation wall
Conventional or home-made attic or basement stairways
In steps to basements, especially in older homes we often find odd dimensions of stair railings, stair tread width, height, depth, nose, low or flimsy stair railings, loose stair components, and a host of other stair and railing defects are the source of more injuries and more lost time from work in the United States (and probably other countries) than any other source of injuries after automobile accidents.
If you see a silly railing such as the one in this photograph it may indicate an approach to stair building that is a red alert for other hazards.
It would be better to provide a handrail and balusters that can be removed when necessary.
Garage stairs to basement: explosion waiting to happen
At left we illustrate an unsafe entry stair passing from a residential garage into the home's basement.
Watch out: As heating equipment is most often found in the home's basement, imagine the explosion that may occur (one did, despite our emphatic warnings, in Fishkill NY) if a vehicle leaks gasoline and gasoline fumes into the garage.
Gasoline fumes, heavier than air, fall down the stairwell, into the basement (or crawl space) where, at the next spark or flame, there is risk of an explosion.
A "fire door" in the stairwell bottom is not enough security for this installation. In fact, as you can see, the (not fire-rated) door has been left ajar.
Continue reading at BASEMENT WALKOUTS & COVERS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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