Monday, August 16th
Are the concrete stairs and concrete pathways into your home welcoming and safe or a tripping hazard?
Is the concrete in and around your home safe for those living there as well as guests and visitors? Uneven concrete and damaged concrete can contribute to the high number of falls, slips, and tripping accidents that happen each year in the U.S. Unfortunately, we rarely take a safety inventory of our home and yard, except when moving in, babyproofing, or when someone gets hurt. It’s a good idea to perform seasonal safety reviews of your property, making sure to focus on the condition of your concrete walkways, patios, concrete stairs, pool decks, and any other concrete slabs in and around your home.
Data from safety organizations and the insurance industry shows that falls, slips, and trips result in lost time from work, injury, disability, and death each year. While accidents also happen in the kitchen, bathroom, or on top of a ladder, the entrances and exits around your home can pose a substantial risk if not well-maintained. A misstep on a concrete walkway or stairs can result in a minor injury, like a bruise or twisted ankle, or a far more serious injury, like a broken bone.
How do visitors, guests, contractors, utility and maintenance workers, babysitters and pet-sitters, and others enter and exit your property? Concrete driveways, paths, patios, cement stairs, and other concrete walkways are often how people enter and exit our homes. For the purpose of sidewalks and public facilities, the American Disabilities Act defines a trip hazard as a difference in elevation of ¼ inch or more. Of course, older people and those with walking or sight disabilities are at greater risk of falling or tripping in the presence of uneven concrete. Obstructions and poor lighting can also make a trip hazard more treacherous.
Here’s what to look for and how to address any issues you find:
Differences in elevation in concrete slabs often occur at the joints or between slabs. Often caused by changes in moisture content under a concrete slab, soil settlement leads to pockets or voids and what’s known as concrete settlement. Look for large cracks, gaps between slabs, and signs of one section of a concrete walkway sinking below the adjacent slab. Not only is uneven concrete a tripping hazard, but it can also damage bikes, wheelchairs, and cars. If you have settling concrete slabs, concrete replacement won’t address the underlying cause and the problem will recur. Get a free concrete leveling estimate and proactively keep your property safer.
Falling on concrete steps can be more painful than on carpeted steps. If you have concrete stairs, make sure they have a railing that’s up to code, and that the finish is not flaking or rusty. If concrete stairs are pulling away from the foundation or if you spot large cracks or gaps, it’s time to schedule a concrete leveling evaluation.
When concrete degrades or corrodes, often the steel rebar rods poke through, creating a tripping hazard. Check concrete surfaces for rusty rebar or tree roots poking through. For maximum security against falls, slips, and trips, fix concrete slabs at the first signs of a problem.
Check concrete pool deck for potential tripping hazards.
It’s especially important to keep pool decks in good shape. Uneven slabs around the pool create a tripping hazard and encourage pooling water, making surfaces slippery and accelerating concrete deterioration. Look for cracks and discrepancies in height between concrete slabs.
Every season poses a challenge to your exterior concrete: ice and snow in the winter, leaves and seeds in the fall, rain and debris in the spring, and strong UV rays in the summer. If your concrete slabs are cracked, uneven, or slippery, you should make sure to keep them as clear and dry as possible. This goes for concrete walkways, patios, pool decks, and concrete stairs.
Add lights along concrete walkways for greater safety at night.
The danger of an uneven concrete walkway is made worse at night if the lighting is poor. Install motion-sensors, solar-powered lights, or other edge lighting along any concrete paths into your house.
Don’t let your front walkway, pool deck, or patio become an obstacle course. Keep walkways clear of toys, scooters, yard equipment, bikes, and other objects to eliminate another source of trips and falls. Shrubs and other low-hanging plants such as groundcover can threaten to take over concrete pathways, so it’s important to prune overgrown greenery.
How many times do you enter or exit your home while carrying something to and from your car? Or wearing shoes with poor tread? A simple thing like a waterproof mat near every entrance can help keep concrete surfaces from getting too slick or slippery.
It’s always good to check with your homeowners insurance company to make sure you have appropriate coverage for accidental injuries.
It’s important to note you can’t eliminate every risk of injury related to concrete. After all, it’s easy enough to stub your toe! But you can make the concrete around your home safer and lower the risk of a serious injury. If you’ve got uneven concrete walkways, cracked pool decks, concrete stairs pulling away, or signs of concrete settlement, take action today. If you wait too long to fix concrete problems, the solutions become more expensive and invasive.
Learn how PolyLevel can help fix tripping hazards around your home by scheduling your free concrete leveling estimate today!