Stairway Hazards for Preschoolers
While most preschoolers have mastered the fine art of walking, the stairs can still be an obstacle, especially for younger or smaller children.
More than 2.3 million children under the age of 14 are treated every year emergency rooms for injuries sustained during a fall. Over half of all fall-related injuries happen to children under the age of 5 (source: National SAFE KIDS Campaign).
There are several things you can do to keep your stairways as safe as possible. And not only should you take care to keep your stair areas safe, you should also teach your preschooler proper stair-climbing behaviour.
Keep the stairs clear
Balancing and navigating stairs is tough enough without having to step over or around items left on the steps. Many people use the bottom steps as a landing spot for things that need to be taken upstairs. Though it is convenient, this is not a safe practice. The stairs can quickly become cluttered and dangerous. Find another place to set things that are headed up the stairs. Or use a step basket or tote to keep your stairway clear.
Add some traction
Wooden or tiled stairs can be exceptionally slippery, and even more so when you are wearing socks. If you have stairs will little traction, you can make them safer by installing a runner carpet. Another alternative would be to have your preschooler wear rubber soled shoes or slippers when in the house.
Walk, don't run
This can be a difficult rule to enforce, as preschooler seem to like tearing up the stairs as fast as possible. Even if your children seem steady and secure, running is the quickest way to end up in a fall.
Use the handrails
Another good habit to encourage in your preschooler, is to hold on to the handrail or banister when using the stairs. It will help keep them balanced and give them a ready hand-hold should they trip or slip.
If you find that even with these precautions that your preschooler is still unsteady on the stairs, make sure he or she isn't left to fend for themselves unsupervised. Take the time to walk on the stairs with your child, and prevent them from going alone with a gate if necessary.