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Make your outdoor steps safe

A romantically well lit pathway to house steps in the cool crisp air under the shade of darkness.

Whether you're coming or going, the outdoor steps to your home are the passageway. They can cause serious injuries if they're unstable or covered with debris. Here's how you can make your steps safe for you, your family and your visitors.

Check your outdoor steps for these factors:

  • Are you building your own steps?

    If so, first check both your park's regulations for them and your local building codes that regulate tread depth, stair width, riser height and handrails.

  • Are your outdoor steps secured?

    Your steps need to be secure, whether they are on the ground or on cement. It's easy to lose footing on wobbly or broken steps. When steps sit on concrete pads, you can secure them with metal straps screwed into the concrete.

  • Does the tread depth and riser height measure the same for each step?

    Make sure the steps all measure the same height, and have the same tread depth. This way, no one will trip from an unexpected change in distance to the next step.

  • Do you have a handrail?

    If not, add one. If your steps measure several feet across, a handrail on each side is best. Most local building codes require handrails. Check these out before you install them.

  • Are your outdoor steps skid-resistant?

    Consider affixing skid-resistant material in the center of your steps to help establish sure-footedness. Keep this material in good condition. If it deteriorates or separates from the steps, it can become a hazard itself.

  • Do your outdoor steps need cleaning?

    Keep your steps clear of debris like snow, ice and leaves. Though you might have just a few steps, any debris can take away a person's footing in an instant.

  • Do your outdoor steps need to be sealed?

    If your steps are concrete, seal them with an acrylic or silicone-based concrete sealer. If they are wooden, check if they need to be stained or water sealed.

  • Are your outdoor steps even with the door?

    The first step outside your home should be even with the entry door and not be a step down.

  • Do your outdoor steps have gaps in them?

    If your steps are made of wood, make sure no gaps exist between the boards that a high-heel could get caught in.

  • How strong are the boards in your steps?

    Make sure wooden steps are strong enough to safely hold the weight of a person standing on an individual board.

  • Do you have open-backed outdoor steps?

    Make sure the opening is 4 inches high or less, so a child won't fall through them or get caught in them. If the opening is more than 4 inches, cover the backs of your steps instead of leaving them open.

  • Are your steps well lit?

    Make sure your steps have adequate lighting on them at night.

Once your steps are in shape, be sure to keep them well maintained and check them often for hazards. This will ensure your steps always provide a warm welcome for you and your guests.

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