A balcony is a great addition to homes and businesses alike; the wealth of space they provide allows everyone to take in the scenery as they enjoy some downtime. Yet a surface without waterproof balcony flooring, the wrong railings, and unrepaired structural elements can place guests in danger. Let’s take a closer look at how to keep your balcony attractive and safe for everyone to use.
Did you know that balconies are one of the most dangerous places for curious toddlers and adventurous children in any household? Whether you live in a double-storey house or a high-rise apartment, you cannot ignore balcony safety for kids when it comes to childproofing your home. With the concept of vertical living becoming more popular and a number of luxury apartment projects being constructed in every major city, it is now more important than ever to discuss ways to make your balcony safe for children.
Kids, by nature, can be quite inquisitive. While most developers are now paying special attention to make balconies and staircases less dangerous for kids, the main responsibility to keep a child safe ultimately falls on the parents’ shoulder.
Since we have already covered ways to make stairs safer for kids, here are some easy-to-follow yet efficient balcony safety tips that will keep your children from the harm’s way.
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Ways to Improve High-Rise Balcony Safety
Children are curious by nature. They love to climb, touch, watch and explore, which make them more susceptible to falls. This is worrisome, especially for families who stay in high-rise buildings. Even more so when statistics show that most accidental falls among children happen from heights. The most notable area of concern is the balconies of apartments. To reduce fatalities, we are urging all parents and landlords to make homes safer for children with one of these balcony installations.
You can’t go wrong with invisible grilles. Engineered with steel cables, this balcony guard lowers the risk of children falling from balconies. They are customisable to individual home preferences and come in movable versions, which can come in handy for families who are looking for a short-term solution in their rented homes. Being made out of stainless steel, invisible grilles are hardy and durable. However, they can still be cut using a wire cutter. So, they can’t be used to prevent burglars from breaking in. Invisible grilles may be the modernised version of traditional grilles, but they are not exactly invisible, as the name suggests. You can still see thin wires running across, and you would not have the clearest view of what is happening outside.
Glass Curtains® is a fully retractable enclosure for balconies that can convert that unused space into an all-year-round balcony oasis with endless possibilities. This unique innovation secured an exclusive European patent and is designed for easy everyday usage, maximum security and durability. It relies on toughened glass units and Teflon Transport System to bring families a multitude of benefits. Tests showed that Glass Curtains® could reduce the intensity of outside traffic noise to the noise level of soft background music and is effective in keeping interiors dry even under heavy rainy conditions. Thanks to a maintenance-free Teflon Transport System, it eliminates the need for rubber wheels that can degrade, or ball bearings, which can rust and have sliding friction.
The glass panels sit sturdily with the weight on the bottom of the tracks, making Glass Curtains® an incredibly steady and secure product. With no unsightly frames between the slimline glass panels, apartment dwellers get an endless gaze of the horizon. Another unique innovation is the Flying Door™ opening system. Users have the option to open the glass panels completely for full ventilation, or some panels can be left in place for a partial windbreak. Plus, a sidelock system is also available to provide additional safety. Parents can rest assured that children can move around freely and safely as this glass enclosure can prevent fatal falls from high-rise apartments.
Outdoor Blinds and Ziptrak®
Outdoor blinds are also a great solution for families looking for extra protection. Louvre shutters, PVC blinds and external venetian blinds come in an extensive range of configurations to suit different needs. Most of these blinds are versatile but do not perform well under harsh weather conditions. They require frequent touch-ups and replacements and obstruct views.
Ziptrak®, on the other hand, is a sophisticated track guided blind system designed to provide protection from undesirable elements, such as rain, heat, wind, haze and insects, and ultimately, falls! Its spring-balanced system is one of the smoothest in the market. No cranks or ropes are required to operate the blind. Pull down, push up, let go, and it will stay at any desired height. Ziptrak® is rigorously tested to provide total rain and wind protection. The design grips tight to the vertical tracks so there will be no rattling even in the strongest winds. For a full secure hold, the blind can also be locked when fully down. Ziptrak® can go up to 6 metres wide to cover a large opening, and is available in manual or motorised geared styles, making it a stylish and effective solution.
Adding a safety net to the balcony is one of the most basic preventive steps one can take. Netting materials can easily be bought at most hardware stores, cut to size and are easy to install. It may not be aesthetically appealing to have a net at the balcony obstructing views, but at least there is still space to enjoy some fresh air while keeping children and pets relatively safe. Do bear in mind that nets may be useful at keeping out unwanted visitors, such as birds, but they are not tested to provide full home security.
Additional Slats and Spindles
For families who stay in an apartment with a balcony, some child safety tips to keep in mind include:
Making sure the railings do not have horizontal parts that could allow children to climb on them.
Putting away furniture and other climbable objects from the edge of the balcony.
- Keeping doors to balconies closed to prevent children from gaining access to them.
Apart from these, adding extra vertical slats or spindles to fill in the gaps in the railing can make the balcony safer as well.
Kid-Proofing the Balcony
Before you let your kids out on the balcony, it is essential to ensure that it is safe. Kids can be curious and may do things that might put them at danger. Here are a few things to keep in mind while setting up a kid-friendly balcony space:
Make Sure Your Railings Are Well Fortified and High Enough
Kids tend to run towards the railings to look outside. Make sure that your railing is strong enough and well fixed. The other thing to keep in mind is the height of the railing. Make sure every side of your balcony railing is high enough so your child cannot climb on it. If your balcony has low horizontal ladder-like bars, you may want to cover it up as kids could use that to climb up.
Cover up Any Gap More Than 4 Inches
If your railing has a gap of more than 4 inches, you may want to cover them up. Children can stick their hands or head outside the fence and might get stuck. Plexiglas or a balcony shield is useful to cover up these gaps.
Make Sure No Sharp Objects or Tools Are Lying About
To create a kid-friendly balcony space, take note of all the things that you keep outside. If there are any sharp objects or tools or maybe chemicals or fertilisers that you store outdoors, make sure you lock them up. Young children can be curious, and you do not want to have dangerous and harmful things lying about.
Keep the Furniture Away From the Railings
Make sure all your outdoor furniture is away from the edges. Kids can use the furniture to climb up and get on the railing.
Now that you have kid-proof your balcony, here are some fun ways of using your outdoor space to keep your little ones occupied.
Tips On Balcony Safety For Kids
So, how do you childproof a balcony? Let’s find out:
- Replace your balcony railing
- Install balcony safety mesh
- Remove furniture from the balcony
- Get safety locks and latches
- Invest in a door alarm
Let’s further discuss these ways to ensure balcony safety for children.
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Replace Your Balcony Railings
Make sure your balcony railings don’t have any gaps wider than 4 inches.
If your balcony railings are low or easy to climb, you must replace them with something taller and safer.
For example, some cable and wire rope railings may be budget-friendly and look aesthetically pleasing. Still, they usually have enough space between each post for a toddler to squeeze through easily. Similarly, some modern metal railings may look chic and stylish, but they are low enough for a child to climb them.
Either of these scenarios could be extremely dangerous.
Depending on your budget and the area bylaws, you can install tall wrought iron railing or a metal grill that makes it impossible for a kid to climb over or squeeze through. Ideally, your balcony railings should not have a gap larger than 4 inches. A concrete parapet is also a great and budget-friendly option to childproof your balcony. Meanwhile, if you are worried about tall grills hindering your view, you can instead opt for waist-high plexiglass as a transparent balcony shield to make it safe for children.
Moreover, if your balcony railing is the ideal height and doesn’t have any huge gaps, you still need to make sure it’s installed perfectly and won’t give away any time soon.
This is one of the most important tips on balcony safety for kids.
Meanwhile, here are some more ideas for balcony railings that will increase the visual appeal of your home while making the area safe for your kids.
Install Balcony Safety Mesh
This is one of the most affordable ways to ensure balcony safety for children.
Since replacing your balcony railing can be rather expensive, you can try securing it with a wire or plastic mesh instead. Although installing a child safety netting for the balcony is not a permanent solution and isn’t completely foolproof, it will keep toddlers and young children from climbing it. In addition to that, with a safety mesh for balcony, you won’t have to worry about your kids throwing their toys through the gaps in the grill either.
Wire or plastic balcony safety netting for kids is easily available at any hardware store. You can even place an online order for a child safety net for the balcony according to your colour preference.
These children’s balcony safety nets are also very easy to install and replace.
Remove Furniture From The Balcony
If left unsupervised, children can use outdoor furniture to climb over the balcony railing.
Are there any chairs or tables lying around in your balcony? If your kid is old enough to push house furniture next to the balcony wall but young enough not to realise the safety hazards of doing so, you need to be extra vigilant at all times.
One of the easiest ways to make your balcony safe for children is to remove any outdoor furniture you might have placed in the open area. Even if you enjoy having your evening tea on the balcony, make sure to bring all the furniture items inside once you’re done using them.
Moreover, since children can be very creative, you should also make sure there aren’t any boxes, plant pots, or toys that your kid can use as a stepping stool to climb over the balcony railing. If the railing has a ladder-like space for emergency purposes, make sure you make it inaccessible for kids by installing a transparent balcony shield. However, you must not block it off completely as you might end up needing it in case of an unfortunate incident.
Also, invest in heavy pieces of furniture to ensure balcony safety for kids. The heavier the furniture, the more difficult it would be to cannot drag it to the balcony and climb it in an attempt to look outside.
Get Safety Locks And Latches
This is yet another tried and tested balcony protection tip for keeping unsupervised children away from the area.
Regardless of all the precautions may you take, there is still a fair chance your toddler might make his or her way to the balcony while you’re busy with work. Therefore, it is recommended to install two different locks on your balcony door as a childproofing measure. If the door already has a built-in lock, you can buy a latch from any hardware store and install it beyond the reach of your child. Remember, kids can be very observant and may learn to unlock the door after watching you do it a couple of times.
Now, if other residents of the house frequently access the balcony in your home, you should ask them to make sure the door is properly locked, and the latch is in its place once they come back inside.
This is easily one of the most efficient ways to childproof your balcony.
Invest In A Door Alarm
A security alarm system can help keep your kids as well as your home safe.
Last but not least, you can invest in a security alarm system for your home. It will not only keep your home safe from burglars but also help make your balcony safe for children. Of course, this is one of the relatively expensive balcony safety tips on this list. However, it is a foolproof way to keep your young ones from accessing the balcony without alerting everyone in the house.
There are various types of security alarm systems available for homes in the market, though you will require a professional to install it.
Unfortunately, a large number of toddlers end up hurting themselves or worse after accidentally falling down the balcony. Therefore, if you have young children at home, it is pertinent to follow these tips on balcony safety for kids. Not to mention, it is just as important for the parents to discipline and teach their kids the dangers of climbing up the balcony railing or trying to squeeze through the gaps in its design.
Kid-Friendly Balcony Activities
Outdoor Splash Pool
Convert your balcony into a fun outdoor splash pool for your kids. You can buy an inflatable pool for those warm summer days. That way your kids can have fun splashing about in the balcony. Be sure to check the load-bearing capacity of your balcony.
Sandbox Play Area
Create a fun outdoor sandbox for your kid to play with and keep occupied while you work. Repurpose an old bookshelf into a fun DIY sandbox and buy some toys to leave in the area—that way the sand does not get carried back in the house with the toys.
Use the wall of your balcony as a chalkboard wall where your kid can write, draw and be creative.
Outdoor Camping Area
You could easily convert your balcony into an outdoor camping area for your kid. Pitch a tipi in your gallery, add in a campsite table by it and teach your kids to be adventurous.
Create a board game zone out on your balcony! Add in a table with chairs around and stack it up with multiple boards and card games. Jenga, Monopoly, Sequence, and many more!
Balcony Gardening for Kids
Mark off a section of your garden for your kids and teach them to plant their seeds. Train them to care for their little garden patch and see how they find it.
Outdoor Play Fort
Set up a mini play fort outdoors for your kid. Be it a dollhouse or a pirate castle; your child will have fun playing in there.
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Spark your child’s creativity with an outdoor craft table. Use the space to inspire your child’s creativity through drawing, painting, knitting and planning various DIY projects with your kids.
When you’re childproofing your railings, don’t forget to make external stairs safer as well. If you have stairs leading down from your balcony or deck, build or buy a gate to match your existing railings. Be sure the gate’s latching mechanism is childproof or high enough that it’s out of reach.
Try to get in the habit of keeping patio furniture away from the railings. You don’t want to give your child a chance to climb up and go over the edge.
You should also consider adding latches to any doors or windows that lead out to your balcony or deck. These latches should be installed well out of your child’s reach.
If you’re at a hotel or visiting someone else’s house, you won’t have the opportunity to close gaps between spindles or add latches to doors. If there’s a child-sized gap between the spindles, the best thing you can do is keep your child off the balcony or deck completely, even if he has supervision. Curious kids can be extremely fast, and a child needs just a second to slip away.