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Checklist: Stair Safety

It's a momentous occasion when your child finally masters the art of stair climbing. Getting the hang of it takes time, and toddlers, in their rush to get from here to there, are neither patient or proficient enough to handle stairs safely on their own. To keep your child safe as he handles life's ups and downs:

Install safety gates. Put gates at the tops and bottoms of all accessible stairs.

Install low railings if possible. Once your child has the basics of stair climbing under his belt, he'll want to handle the adventure on his own. An easy-to-reach handrail can help keep him safe.

Repair any torn carpet on the stairs. Or replace it. A child's small foot can snag in places that adults wouldn't find dangerous.

Keep stairs free of obstacles. Don't store items on stairs. In addition, kids can stand on items such as chair on stair landings, and topple over banisters.

Close open-backed stairs. Basement stairs particularly often have an open-backed design, as do spiral staircases. The backs should be covered securely to prevent a child from slipping through and strangling between the steps.