Stair Safety

A study by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy showed that over 93,000 children younger than five years of age were treated in U.S. emergency departments each year from 1999 through 2008 for stair-related injuries. This equates to a child younger than 5 years of age being treated in an emergency department every six minutes for a stair-related injury.

While the number of stair-related injuries did show a declining trend, these types of injuries continue to be a common source of injury among young children. Through a combination of educating parents, using stair gates, and modifying building codes to make stairs safer, many pediatric stair-related injuries can be prevented.

Injury Prevention Tips:

  • Avoid carrying a child on the stairs when possible. Place him in a safe place, such as a crib, when you need to use the stairs.
  • When you need to carry a child on the stairs:
    • Avoid carrying other items. The child should be the only thing in your arms.
    • Keep one hand on the handrail to help prevent a fall in case you trip or slip.
    • Make sure the child is in your arms and not in a stroller or carriage while on the stairs.
  • Do not let your child use a baby walker.
  • When a child begins to use stairs on his own, teach him:
    • to always have a free hand to hold onto the handrail.
    • to ask an adult for help if he wants to take something up or down stairs.
    • to keep his toys off of the stairs.
    • and to not play or jump on stairs.

Create Safe Stairways:

  • Keep stairs free of clutter and in good repair.
  • Install a handrail if one is not available.
    • Handrails that are small enough for you to be able to put your whole hand around are best.
  • Use stair gates both at the top and at the bottom of stairs.
    • Built-in, wall-mounted gates are best.
    • Only use wall-mounted gates at the top of stairs. Pressure mounted gates can be knocked over allowing the child to fall down the stairs.
    • While important and effective, remember that stair gates are not a substitute for adult supervision.

Additional Stair Safety Resources

  • Stair-related injuries to young children treated in US emergency departments, 1999-2008