Message - Re: Raised foyers for step downs - trip hazard caution

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Posted by  JWmHarmon on March 25, 2004 at 07:53:40:

In Reply to:  Re: Raised foyers for step downs posted by Price on March 24, 2004 at 09:39:13:

A step down or step up transition from the foyer to the rest of the house is a desirable design feature, but be warned that this is a fall and/or trip hazard. The three-step layout suggested in Steven Madden's post helps to call attention to the transition in levels. A one-step transition is sometimes missed by the human eye, particularly if there is no diffinitive difference in the appearance of the two levels. The human brain tends to think of the two levels as one, until one steps off the edge and gets that unique jolt from not having anticipated the step down. Seeing three steps tends to focus the brain subconsciously on the fact that there is a transition in levels and prepares the body to react appropriately.

I know of a church where the architect conected two buildings and, because of the different levels, ended up making a step down on a landing from the upper stairs to the lower stairs in a switch-back design. No one anticipates a change in levels on a stair landing. After the architect had been long gone from the scene, someone missed the step down and broke a leg. The church immediately (after the fact) painted the step a bright red to alert users to the change in levels. Previously the steps were a beige color and the transition was not clear as it visually blended from one level to the other.

ALL changes in levels chould be designed with an adequate handrail on at least one side of the step-down. You will see many buildings without a handrail. Anyone who designs a step-down without a handrail should be forced to pay for the medical bills of anyone who is injured as a result of not having a handrail (for the life of the building).

The danger of falls in a home should not be dismissed lightly. Many injuries in the home are related to falls. Falls most often occur on steps. We must always be aware of the inherent dangers in some designs, no matter how attractive that design may be.

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