How many times have we heard of small kids falling through balconies or terraces? We have a Spanish saying, "accidents never occur.... until they do".
Terraces, balconies, attics and roofs terraces are greatly used in this part of the world, especially in urbanizations and properties around the Costa, because their design are mostly orientated for people to enjoy sunbathing on them. To enjoy these places without problems, it is essential to attend a series of recommendations, especially if there are children around the house or even if they visit us occasionally.
Before the year 2007 there was no regulation that governs the security on these places, but with the Technical Code of Construction (Código Técnico de la Construcción or "CTE") a new Spanish Building Regulations became obligatory with strict norms to be used on houses designed since them. Unfortunately there are many properties built before 2007, so we will take a look at the different aspects that may potentially dangerous.
It is essential to keep balconies and terraces fairly organized, even in cold season when we do not make much use of them, and turn them into a kind of storeroom, where we accumulate domestic piece and pieces.
If there are children at home it is essential to concentrate on a series of recommendations, any carelessness can lead to serious situations of risk for them.
According to a report by the European Union, the majority of injuries and deaths of children younger than four years old, correspond to accidents at home; falls from balconies and terraces are one of the main causes, along with burns, poisonings, suffocation and drowning.
First, you should review the conditions of all and each one of the parts of the terrace or balcony. Rusted banisters, walls with chips and moisture, floor finishes with some irregularities, loose handrails and light points in poor condition may result from minor wounds or unnecessary scratches to serious accidents. All these problems should be resolved immediately to avoid future risks.
Children under the age of ten should not remain unattended in this area of the house.
It is very important to also restrain the access to these places in the house, installing locks on windows and doors to be made inaccessible to children. Below are a series of specific recommendations, tips that may be worthless if adults do not respect the primary rule: children under the age of ten years should not remain unattended in these areas of the house, although you have inspected inch by inch and everything is seemingly in good condition:
Let us take a look at situations that may turn into potential danger.
- Balconies windows and balconies balusters should be quite close to prevent children from introducing their bodies between them. The separation between each rail should not exceed 10cm.
- Balcony railings must have a minimum height. It is established that the height of handrails may not be less than 100 cm for a fall between 0,55m and 6 m, and shall not be less than 110 cm for any heights higher than 6m.
- Avoid proximity to handrail of objects that children can use to climb, such as tables, banquets, planters, flowerpots and other decorative elements.
- Assure yourself that floor tiles are free from holes or without loose tiles. Do not use waxes or slippery finishes in your cleaning products.
- Keep an eye with plants and substrates. If there are very small children they may try to eat these products.
- Pots and the planters should never be placed so that they may fall on children. It will be better to put them on the floor, on tables or auxiliary furniture. This recommendation also applies to all objects and decorative elements: lamps, table, ashtrays, tableware etc.
- If the terrace is large, it will be convenient to allocate a children's area. The clearer this area it is the better, children soon learn that this is protected space for them.