A Serious Question About Building Codes And Safety

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This comes up because of a tragic accident with some folks I know. The elderly grandmother, 88 was at home with her granddaughter, the granddaughter's three young children and the granddaughter's boyfriend. The boyfriend had just spoken to grandma then went into the room with his gal when they heard an awful sound. Grandma had fallen down the basement stairs to the concrete floor below. The boyfriend ran down to check on grandma but she was fatally injured. What happened was the door to the basement stairs opened into the stairwell and the latch was defective and failed to hold when grandma was walking down the hallway holding onto the walls to steady herself. When she put her weight against the door, it sprang open and she fell through it and down the stairs. It seems to me that most basement doors I've seen open out and not into the stairwell. I don't know if there is a home-building code regarding this or not but anyone building a house should consider the safety of a door which opens into a stairwell. O_o
TDD
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On 1/16/2013 7:06 AM, The Daring Dufas wrote: ...

Code can't protect either
a) shoddy workmanship that had the door hinge/latch so poorly aligned it didn't catch, or
b) somebody not closing the door the last time thru.
Or, of course, maybe as tragic as it is, grandma accidentally opened the door herself by grabbing the knob.
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In any of those cases, a door that swings out from the stairs would have helped. And, she might be alive.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Code can't protect either
a) shoddy workmanship that had the door hinge/latch so poorly aligned it didn't catch, or
b) somebody not closing the door the last time thru.
Or, of course, maybe as tragic as it is, grandma accidentally opened the door herself by grabbing the knob.
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On Jan 16, 9:35 am, "Stormin Mormon"

And at least around here, you have to have a new home being built inspected, in which case code could indeed prevent this, provided the code inspector found it. I suspect it already is code in most places.
I've never seen a door open over stairs like that. It seems very odd. For one thing, it puts the door in the way, right where you could hit it with your head on the way up the stairs. I have seen doors open into stairwells where there is a substantial landing there. One that is large enough so that even if you pushed against the door and opened, you'd fall onto the landing, not down the stairs.
..

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On 1/16/2013 8:56 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

W/ an elderly person off balance I don't see it being at all unlikely even w/ the landing they wouldn't/couldn't just pitch right on down unless it were a very long landing. Most basement accesses don't have sufficient clearances to allow a very long and who knows--w/ an elderly person it may have been enough even if there was a landing and only a couple of steps to have been fatal. Of course, _just_ wrong and even a younger person could do the neck w/o going all the way down a flight...
There's simply too little known here about the actual situation to say anything except "too bad"...
--
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wrote:

<snip>
You'd have to be leaning way forward to hit your head on the door coming up the sstairs. I'm in a 40s something house, basement stair doors opens into the stairway.
Harry K
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dpb wrote:

Any amount of code could't prevent an accodent.
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Remember, code is the worst you are allowed to build.
(you can and should build better than code - it is a minimum standard not a desirable one)
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They minimise accidents. Quite likely this one wouldn't have happened with a properly designed staircase.
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We do have some codes that are a big help. Hand rails on staircases, grounded outlets, and so on. I think a correct door swing could have made a difference.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
Hi, Any amount of code could't prevent an accodent.
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On Wed, 16 Jan 2013 12:59:45 -0500, "Stormin Mormon"

As could a landing at the top of the stairs.
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No, but it can lessen the impact of that accident.
So, so many examples.
A GFCI doesn't prevent the accident, but it prevents the death that would otherwise have resulted.
Air bags don't prevent the accident, but they often prevent the death that might otherwise have resulted.
Lead paint bans don't prevent the accidental ingestion, but they prevent the brain damage that might otherwise have resulted.
I could go on all day.
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I don't know if there is anything adresses this. But, it sure makes sense.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
This comes up because of a tragic accident with some folks I know. The elderly grandmother, 88 was at home with her granddaughter, the granddaughter's three young children and the granddaughter's boyfriend. The boyfriend had just spoken to grandma then went into the room with his gal when they heard an awful sound. Grandma had fallen down the basement stairs to the concrete floor below. The boyfriend ran down to check on grandma but she was fatally injured. What happened was the door to the basement stairs opened into the stairwell and the latch was defective and failed to hold when grandma was walking down the hallway holding onto the walls to steady herself. When she put her weight against the door, it sprang open and she fell through it and down the stairs. It seems to me that most basement doors I've seen open out and not into the stairwell. I don't know if there is a home-building code regarding this or not but anyone building a house should consider the safety of a door which opens into a stairwell. O_o
TDD
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One house I looked at before we decided on our present one had the basement stairway (without a door) immediately across the narrow hallway from the front door. I could imagine somebody welcoming visitors and stepping back too far and plunging down the stairs. It may not have been a code violation, but it certainly seemed an unwise design.
Perce
On 01/16/13 09:02 am, Stormin Mormon wrote:

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On Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:36:53 AM UTC-3:30, The Daring Dufas wrote:

In my neck of the woods there are rules regarding this. The preferred approach is to have doors open away from stairs. If a door opens towards the stairs, no part of the door can "hang" over the first step when opened.
Having said that, I've seen lots of local examples of older construction (25+ years) where doors open toward (and over) stairs.
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On Wed, 16 Jan 2013 06:58:13 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

is to have doors open away from stairs. If a door opens towards the stairs, no part of the door can "hang" over the first step when opened. That is in the building code most places R311.7.5 in the ICC residential code
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

approach is to have doors open away from stairs. If a door opens towards the stairs, no part of the door can "hang" over the first step when opened.

My house is 20 years old with fully finished basement. No door to staircase going down to basement. Staircase is U shaped with two landings and hand rails along the way down.
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wrote:

approach is to have doors open away from stairs. If a door opens towards the stairs, no part of the door can "hang" over the first step when opened.

When I lived in Queens, NYC, we also had a basement without a door. I don't know if there ever was a door and there was no evidence neither. It is possible in the OP scenario that the door was changed to suit the owners' desires regardless of what (if any) was in the code. And as someone else pointed out, I believe in most places there is a code to address this. I don't know tho when the code came about for those places that use it.
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On Wednesday 16 January 2013 14:58 snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in alt.home.repair:

British Building Regs (Part K) say there much be 400mm clearance between the open door leaf and the edge of the first step.

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On 1/16/2013 8:06 AM, The Daring Dufas wrote:

That is terribly sad. I'm of the age (and experience as a nurse) that I am paranoid about trip/fall hazards. We have such a stairway which we both check more often than we check the exterior doors...it has a very sturdy swiveling hook to latch the door...if left unlocked, it is not hard to imagine someone just leaning against or bumping the door and going down the stairs. When we get settled, I'm going to rig a ramp to slide bags of salt and laundry baskets down :o)
Keep up to date on eye exams, keep lighting sufficient to see obstacles (I have night lights all over the place).
Our front steps are redwood stained wood with no hand rail; rarely use the front door, but would like to find something (other than paint-on granules) to make the steps slip proof. Moved too late in the year to take care of the steps, but want to make it safer for visitors.
My only serious fall has been the one time I tried out my son's skateboard. Possible mild concussion? Worked that night as usual, so was in hospital in case anything serious showed up :o)
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