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Balconies can be a nice addition to homes and apartments, but it is important to consider safety with these features because they can also be quite dangerous. Balcony safety issues may arise from using the area for storage, particularly for flammable items. Balcony railings should not be spaced too far apart, or a small child or pet could fall through. Apartment or town home management should schedule routine maintenance inspections to ensure safety standards are met. Equally important, young children should not be allowed to play on a balcony unsupervised.
To prevent a curious child from climbing onto a stool, chair, crate, or other tall item, it is best to keep them away from balcony guardrails. Furniture and plants should be placed far away from balcony railings. Ride-on toys and tricycles should not be permitted on the balcony. If there is an access door leading to the outside balcony, installing a safety latch or lock can prevent a child from wondering out by himself.
It's good practice not to use a barbecue grill on a balcony. Many balconies are not large enough to place a grill at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the building. Additionally, grilling on the balcony is not permitted in many apartment buildings. To ensure balcony safety, outdoor grilling should be done on the ground floor, far away from the building.
Although balcony railing heights of 40 inches (101 centimeters) may be safe for most children and adults, any balcony railing could present a safety issue for pets. A large breed of dog could possibly jump up and fall over the balcony railing. The balcony should also be off limits to an unrestrained cat. Allowing any unsecured pet on a balcony could be inviting trouble, so it's best not to take the risk.
For those who are constructing a home balcony, it's best to choose strong window guards and guardrails that are pressure resistant. Balcony safety should be considered before the designs are completed. Juliette balconies, often referred to as false balconies, are often seen in apartments and homes. Often installed on a sliding glass window, these railings act as a window guard. Regulatory standards need to be followed when installing a Juliette balcony.
Whether the home is rented or owned, it is the resident's responsibility to ensure balcony safety standards are being met. This means periodic inspections for loose railings or rusted parts that could pose a safety issue. During harsh winter weather, it's especially important to check for balcony safety issues. Excessive moisture or rain can cause rot, which could lead to a collapse of the balcony structure. Any concerns involving the balcony of a rental unit should be reported immediately to the management office.
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