Gen­eral safety con­sid­er­a­tions

Matamata Chronicle - - Building -

By in­cor­po­rat­ing safety features at the de­sign stage you won’t nec­es­sar­ily have to spend more. For ex­am­ple, small changes in level, such as sin­gle steps in­crease your fall risk.

By de­sign­ing your home with­out sin­gle steps you re­duce your trip or fall risk and it shouldn’t cost you any more. Some other things to con­sider: Avoid lips at door­ways to the out­side, but en­sure there is ad­e­quate drainage Use fit­ted car­pet In­stall a fixed heat­ing sys­tem so you don’t need por­ta­ble heat­ing ap­pli­ances with ca­bles trail­ing across the floor

Pro­vide light switches at the en­try door of rooms, cor­ri­dors and stairs. Front en­tries should pro­vide: Space for peo­ple to gather with some shel­ter. Sur­faces that are non-slip when wet. A flat land­ing area im­me­di­ately out­side the front door.

An alu­minium or tim­ber door sill set into the floor to min­imise lips that peo­ple have to lift their foot over.

The change from in­door to out­door cre­ates a po­ten­tial for slips, trips and falls at each en­try/exit point. Con­sider: A shel­tered tran­si­tion space at the door – such as a ve­randa, re­cessed porch or can­vas awning.

Avoid­ing lips at ex­ter­nal door sills. Some­times this is dif­fi­cult as you need to al­low for water to drain off decks or bal­conies.

Mak­ing the tran­si­tion from out­side to in­side as vis­i­ble as pos­si­ble es­pe­cially where there’s a step.

Mak­ing glass pan­els in doors, par­tic­u­larly slid­ing doors, clearly recog­nis­able as glass.

Well lit door­ways.

In the kitchen you have to bal­ance safety, aes­thet­ics and prac­ti­cal­ity.

Floor sur­faces which look good and are easy to clean can be slip­pery, es­pe­cially when wet. The more slip re­sis­tant a floor is the harder it is to clean.

See con­sumer.org.nz for more in­for­ma­tion on slip re­sis­tant floor­ing. Con­sider: The kitchen should not be a traf­fic route be­tween dif­fer­ent parts of the house or to the out­side.

A small kitchen can be more dan­ger­ous. If you fall you are more likely to hit some­thing on the way down.

There should be an ef­fec­tive work tri­an­gle which min­imises the need to carry hot or heavy ob­jects.

Lo­cate ap­pli­ances and fit­tings to avoid over-reach­ing dur­ing nor­mal use.

Lay floor tiles with­out lips or level dif­fer­ences be­tween in­di­vid­ual tiles. Light switches at en­try points The kitchen needs to be well lit. Avoid high cup­boards re­quir­ing you to stand on some­thing to reach into them.

Pro­vide ac­ces­si­ble stor­age for fre­quently used items.

Bath­rooms and toi­lets are wet ar­eas and this makes them high risk for slips, trips and falls.

Many are poorly planned and cramped so there is lit­tle space to avoid van­i­ties and toi­let bowls on the way down if you fall.

There are no min­i­mum slip re­sis­tance re­quire­ments in the Build­ing Code for wet ar­eas such as bath­rooms, laun­dries, kitchens and decks – other than at the front en­try. How­ever, pro­vid­ing good slip re­sis­tance makes wet floors safer. Con­sider: Floor drainage with the floor slop­ing to the drain point.

Euro­pean-style show­ers with a level en­try.

Se­curely in­stalling shower screens so that if they are grabbed while fall­ing they don’t col­lapse.

Non-slip sur­face fin­ishes on the floor and in the bath or shower. See con­sumer.org.nz for more in­for­ma­tion on non-slip sur­faces.

Grab rails for the bath, shower and toi­let. Or make sure you po­si­tion dwangs and studs so that you can retro­fit grab rails at a later date if you need to.

Lo­cat­ing towel rails close to basins and show­ers to re­duce water drips on the floor. Level floors with no lips or thresh­olds.

Not hav­ing to reach over a bath to open a win­dow.

Avoid­ing show­ers over the bath – get­ting in and out of the bath can be a slip and fall risk.

Rounded edges for fit­tings and fix­tures – in­juries from im­pact with a round edge may re­duce the sever­ity of an in­jury.

Non-slip sur­faces in the bath or shower.

Suf­fi­cient ven­ti­la­tion to re­move damp air to re­duce the risk of mould which can have health im­pli­ca­tions.

Euro­pean, wet area or level-en­try show­ers Level-en­try show­ers are: Safer – trip­ping is re­duced not hav­ing to step over a thresh­old.

Much eas­ier to use when help­ing chil­dren, el­derly, un­well or dis­abled peo­ple.

Are eas­ier to ac­cess if there is an emer­gency.

Spa­cious enough to have room for a seat.

Floor sur­faces within the lev­e­len­try shower and ad­ja­cent bath­room area should be slip re­sis­tant.

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