The pleasures of home ownership are sharply curtailed with the rise of any liability issue. Fortunately, the early identification and resolution of potential threats can minimize liability problems.
Homeowners should evaluate their individual home with the eye of a child. Children wander, explore and play spontaneously with little regard for consequences. Putting oneself in the role of a child can expose dangers adults may no longer think about. Although every home may pose different potential problems, most have some common danger points which need attention.
Stairways, whether inside or out are always potential scenes for accidents. Falls are often worse with poor or nonexistent railings and small necks may become caught in badly spaced spars. Firm railings installed to local code regulations not only help protect those using stairways, but also the homeowner who demonstrates provision for a greater measure of safety. Stair treads should also be clean, firm and undamaged. Ragged edges, wrinkled carpeting and poorly spaced risers raise the possibility of tripping accidents. Repairs should be made to keep stairs in excellent condition.
Basement window wells allow light to underground spaces but if left uncovered pose severe risk. Children, pets and unwary adults can easily fall in, sometimes breaking through window glass below in the process. Wells can be deep enough to trap someone for an extended period, causing potential dehydration or delay in medical attention from injury. Many companies provide secure and custom – fitted covers for window wells which allow safety without significantly reducing basement light.
Landscape water features are becoming increasingly popular. Wherever possible these should be the “disappearing” kind, where trickling water falls into a bed of stones covering a screened underground water reservoir. There is no pool for curious children to fall into or pose a drowning hazard. Where water is necessarily deeper, such as a koi pond or swimming pool, yards should be fenced and security measures taken when children are present. Water features should also be kept clean and in motion to avoid stagnation and to reduce the risk of disease or infection. Plantings, fish and citronella candles which reduce mosquito populations help keep ponds healthier.
Open garage doors expose yard chemicals and equipment to the curiosity and experimentation of children. Bottles, securely – tied bags and sharp tools should be kept on high sturdy shelving to reduce the potential for poisoning and injury. Children should be taught not to play in or around the garage and doors should be kept closed whenever possible.
Property debris is responsible for a large share of liability suit. Old tools, rusty parts and pieces of old equipment or toys and piles of boards or construction debris sheltering poisenous insects and rusty nails are to be found in many yards. Simple clean – up of all such items raises the safety level and reduces homeowner liability risk.