Print Posted on 07/09/2017

Designing for safety at home

Designing for safety at home

If you are building a new home or renovating an existing one, you can employ good design principles to help achieve a safer environment for its inhabitants.

According to Your Home, these design features can be incorporated upfront in the design and construction phase or through ongoing modification and maintenance. Many accidents occur in the home, and the design of a house, construction methods, materials, finishes, appliances and maintenance all influence home safety.

Thanks to Your Home, here’s some design principles you can employ in the kitchen or bathroom to achieve a safer environment:

Kitchen safety

  • Design for unobstructed access to the work triangle (the area containing the stove, sink and refrigerator).
  • Eliminate or reduce cross traffic through the work triangle.
  • Protect hot plates with a guardrail or deep setback and use fire resistant finishes adjacent to and above the cook top.
  • Round-off bench edges and corners.
  • Design heatproof benchtops or inserts either side of oven and grill for rapid set down of hot dishes and trays.
  • Locate microwave ovens above the eye level of children or at the back of a bench to prevent them gazing into it. Have the microwave checked regularly for microwave leakage.

Bathroom safety

  • Use slip resistant flooring and avoid steps.
  • Provide handles and bars near baths, in showers and adjacent to toilets for elderly and disabled users.
  • Design and install child resistant cabinets for medicines and hazardous substances.
  • Comply with Australian Standards that specify minimum distances between water sources (baths, basins, tubs) and power points.
  • Comply with Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements for outward opening of sanitary toilet doors or install sliding doors or use hinges that permit doors to be removed from the outside. Many heart attacks occur in toilets with the victim blocking inward opening doors.
  • Ensure that privacy locks on bathroom doors can be opened from the outside in the case of an emergency.
  • Provide a night light or movement sensitive light switch in the passage for safe access to the toilet at night.