What does it mean to “childproof” a screened porch? For starters, you generally want to think in terms of protecting toddlers.
Infants are typically not mobile enough to get into trouble on their own. Older children are usually experienced enough to know better about some things.
The reality is that childproofing will help protect everyone, including pets and seniors. So this isn’t solely intended to protect toddlers. But thinking about “toddlers” as the type of child you are looking to protect will be helpful in making good safety choices.
Get the Right Door
You want a childproof storm door with a solid lock. If necessary, install a secondary chain safety latch high up where they cannot reach. It may not prevent them from getting out, but it can delay them long enough for you to catch them at it.
Keep in mind that screen doors are easily damaged by children and pets. A door with a plexiglass insert can help prevent that.
Secure Any Stairs
Make sure there are appropriate railings and consider installing anti-slip surfacing. You may also want to gate them to prevent falls. If you expect to have children in the space with minimal supervision, gating will be essential. Otherwise, plan on providing adequate supervision.
Make Sure Outdoor Electrical Sockets Are Grounded and Safe
They should be weatherproof, tamper proof and have watertight casings. You may also want to be able to lock them.
Railings Should Be Solid with Minimal Openings
They need to support the weight of someone leaning against them. They need to prevent people from getting an arm or leg through. The typical recommendation is that gaps should be less than four inches wide.
Use Decking That Won’t Splinter or Poison Anyone
Hardwood decking can splinter as it ages. This can be a big problem for bare feet, regardless of the age of the person in question. Synthetic decking will not splinter and does not contain the toxic preservatives commonly seen in wood treated to withstand outdoor weather.
Don’t Play with Fire
It’s really hard to have a kid-friendly space where you can have an open fire. If safety is a big concern, just skip the fireplace or fire pit entirely. If you do include such, make sure there is a permanent sturdy barrier. Free-standing screens are a potential hazard.
Keep Grills, Starter Fluid, Cooking Equipment, Tools, and the like Secured
It may be convenient to leave them out, but it’s a safety issue. Make sure you have the means to stow them away safely.
Choose Child-friendly Furnishings
Folding furniture isn’t ideal. You want something that can’t easily tip over with non-toxic paint.
Keep Furniture Away from the Railings
This is especially important for elevated or second-floor porches. Furniture against the railings becomes a climbing temptation which can lead to an unfortunate accident.
Don’t Do it Alone
You can get professional help. If safety matters, consult a contractor. We are here to help.
If you are in Stafford, Fredericksburg, King George, Caroline, or the surrounding areas, please contact us at Dream Builders of Virginia. Screen porches are one of the things we handle. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom of the landing page and see our gorgeous photos of past projects.