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The Danger of Stairs – The Importance of Stair Gates

A fall down the stairs may not result in a serious injury for your child, but it is an ordeal that is not worth the risk of bumps and bruises. While severe injuries are not common when children fall down the stairs, there is always the possibility that they may land in such a way that can hurt their head or neck.

In March of 2012, WebMD reported that a child is treated in the emergency for stair-related injuries every 6 seconds in the United States. The majority of injuries are bruises, some slight head and neck injuries and a small amount of hospitalizations. But why risk it, right?

Researchers highly suggest using stair gates to block your child from accessing the stairs, but it is important to note that proper adult supervision is imperative to ensure your child’s safety around stairs. Certain styles of gates can be knocked down or climbed over, so keeping your child while they are around stairs is of the utmost importance.

Types of Gates

That being said, there are sturdy gates, such as wall-mounted gates, that are bolted to the framing inside your walls, making it unlikely that your child can push or knock it over. Safety standards recommend that gates should be no less than 22 inches high with no more than 3 inches between the bottom of the gate and the floor to prevent little ones from trying to crawl under. Look for gates with vertical slats or a fine mesh screen – larger weaves make for great footholds or finger traps. Yikes!

Avoid the old-fashioned accordion style gates – the ones with the diamond-shaped spaces between the slats and no horizontal bar at the top. Even though they pass certain safety standards, they are not well built and will certainly not withstand a good push from a determined toddler. Also, keep walkers and other movable, push-able toys away from the top of the stairs. These too can push through stair gates.

There are many styles of gates, such as pressure-mounted gates, that are not recommended for the top of stairs, since these gates can be pushed over with enough force. Ultimately, proper supervision is what will protect your child from stair falls, especially at the top of the stairs. Stair gates, apart from blocking the path, will slow down your child from accessing the stairs and as we previously stated, are highly recommended.

It is very rare for stair falls to result in life-threatening injuries but the use of a sturdy stair gate paired with proper supervision will help ensure that your child avoids the bumps and bruises that do accompany a tumble down the stairs.

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