Ensure Your Balcony is Child Friendly

A balcony is classified as any platform on the side of a building more than one metre above ground level. By law, this platform must be surrounding by some sort of safety balustrades in Adelaide, also known as railing. As you can imagine, there can be all sorts of hazards for young children on and around your balcony.

Perhaps the biggest factor that parents worry about is the drop to the ground. As mentioned, a balcony is at least one metre from the ground, but more often it is more like two or three metres. A fall from this height could easily cause severe injury, if not death. Unfortunately, the incidence of balcony falls is rather high considering Australian Building Standards insist on a reliable balustrade. Around 140 deaths in children under fifteen years are recorded as a direct result of balcony falling.

The worrying part is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a significant fall height in order to cause death. According to a recent study, approximately 40% of fatal falls for children under the age of fifteen were from a height of less than three feet, which is about three times the length of a standard ruler. In order to prevent falls, the balustrading must be high enough as well as unclimbable. According to Australian Building Standards, any balcony not surrounded by a wall needs to have a balustrade that is at least one metre in height.

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The next hazard is little limbs or other body parts becoming stuck in any gaps in the balustrading. The often arises from attempts to climb the structure. Building standards state that any gaps must be no wider than a 12.5cm circle. However, this restriction would still allow other smaller body parts to become stuck. For this reason, various children’s hospitals recommend a maximum of a 10cm gap. They have seen the many cases of injury that arrive on their doorstep, complaining of large balustrading gaps.

Finally, the last major danger when it comes to balconies is the staircase that is often attached. Stairs are dangerous for even the most coordinated people when they are in a hurry or simply have their mind on other things. For children whose motor and hand-eye coordination skills are not fully developed, will struggle even more. Balustrading is a must for outdoor and indoor staircases, for many of the same reasons as it is required or balconies. As well as a balustrade, it is a good idea to include a hand rail that can guide people up and down safely. Families with young children may wish to look at a second rail which is the right height for their children. Correct landings should also be used after a maximum of 18 steps.

Flooring can be a danger on balconies and outdoor stairs, as this can affect the incidence of slipping. While most balconies are under cover, rain and debris can still blow in and become a hazard. Grooved timber or non-slip tiling are popular choices which effectively drain excess water and prevent slipping in wet and dry conditions. You will want to conduct some research on durable and cost effective solutions that will not disintegrate under extreme weather conditions.

Any questions about the legality and best safety tips for your balcony can be answered by either the Australian Building Code website, or by talking to your local balustrading supplier. Of course, balustrades are not solely about safety, and can look extremely attractive if done correctly. Choose from a range of glass, aluminium or Steel Balustrades Options in Adelaide from Fencing World.

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