Coming and Going

The graduations have all been held. The kids are out of school and looking forward to summer. Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21, in actual practice, when June arrives, summer is in full swing. People spend more time outside in the summertime. This includes everything from a backyard barbecue to a full blown road trip. All of this activity can be very enjoyable. Make sure you don’t ruin the fun with an unexpected fall or injury. With all of this additional coming and going, making sure the entrances to your home are safe and accessible is critical.

Take a look at the entrances to your home, particularly the one that you use most often. I strongly recommend that this entrance should be a zero step entry, protected from the weather, and well lit with lighting activated by a motion sensor. A zero step entry is one that one can use to enter the home without any steps. This enables a person using a wheelchair for mobility to enter and exit the home. It also allows someone using a walker or cane or someone who is frail and has balance issues to enter more easily. There are a number of ways to retrofit a zero step entry onto an entrance that has steps. The most common of these solutions is by adding a ramp. The ramp should have a non skid surface, sturdy handrails, and a slope no greater than one inch of rise for every one foot of run. Ramps can be constructed of aluminum, steel, wood, composite, concrete, or other materials. Sometimes a ramp is not the best solution. This could be because the total rise requires a ramp that would be too long to be practical for the terrain. It could also be for aesthetic reasons. Some people object to how a ramp looks, particularly on the front of a house. One alternative to a ramp is a gently sloping walkway. By raising the ground level and installing a walkway that slopes gently to the level of the house, you can blend the look of the walkway into the surrounding landscaping. Near the house, the last bit of walkway is built on a bridge. Sturdy handrails along the walkway help with fall prevention, particularly in inclement weather. If you choose not to incorporate a zero step entry, at least be sure that your steps are sturdy, have a non skid surface, and have strong handrails on both sides.

Your entryway should be protected from the weather. This enables you to take your time getting the door open and getting inside during inclement. If your home has an attached garage or carport this becomes an ideal entry. If this entry is also zero step, so much the better. If your main entry is not protected from the weather, consider building a porch roof or overhang that protects the entry from the weather. This addition will be helpful not only in the summertime, but also in the wintertime when there is snow and ice. Adding a package shelf or small table to place things on while you get the door open is also a great idea. Adding a motion activated light will also make coming home after dark safer. If you don’t already have a light, adding a battery powered motion activated light doesn’t require any wiring. If you need help implementing any of the ideas in this article, please give us a call at 540-384-2064. We would be happy to help.

Thank you for reading Housing Matters and have a safe and happy summer!

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