Balconies come with many advantages and, for homes or apartment blocks that have them as a feature, they can add tremendous value allowing for beautiful views and access to the outdoors, which can go a long way in enhancing quality of life.
But balconies also come with a host of safety and security concerns. In this article we will be exploring what balcony safety and security is, and what you can do to enhance your balcony security and safety for you and your entire family.
Why is balcony security and safety important?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of all unintentional injuries and deaths in the United States. While falls from elevated surfaces above the ground, such as balconies or decks, are not as common as falls from level surfaces, they usually result in more serious injuries or death.
While some home safety measures are optional, when it comes to balconies, a simple accident can have dire and life altering consequences. Because of the critical nature of the risks, the issue of balcony safety should never be taken lightly.
Concerns about balcony safety
Balcony safety can generally be grouped into two areas. Firstly, safety concerns relating to falls and fires, and secondly, security concerns relating to burglaries and home invasions. Which of these is of more concern to you will depend on the nature of your balcony. For example, a balcony on the first floor of a home will usually have more security concerns, while a high rise apartment may have more safety concerns.
Falling is the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions balcony safety and the reasons for this are obvious. A fall from a balcony can be fatal leading to tremendous tragedy. There are few other places in the home that pose this type of risk and your balcony should be regularly inspected to ensure that it is safe for all residents.
Most break-ins are crimes of opportunity and a balcony presents another possible entry point for an opportunistic burglar. This is compounded by the fact that many home or apartment owners get lulled into a false sense of security – thinking that their balcony is inaccessible – and thus don’t install additional security or leave their balcony doors and windows unlocked.
When it comes to issues of theft, it isn’t just about providing access to your home. A balcony might be a private space, but it is important to remember that it is open and exposed to the outside world. You should be mindful to not discuss confidential information on the phone or with another person as you never know who may be listening. It also means that you shouldn’t leave valuables such as cell phones or laptops unattended, which brings us to our next point.
If you live in a smaller apartment it can be tempting to use your balcony as a storage space. Many apartment residents will keep things such as a bicycle or storage boxes out on the balcony, but because they are exposed for everyone to see, they become a target for opportunistic thieves. It is better to rent a storage unit if you really need the space.
Ways to secure your balcony
Balcony security may only seem relevant to homes or apartments near the ground floor, but unfortunately this is not the case. Opportunistic thieves have been known to scale buildings or climb over from adjacent balconies, landings and even trees to gain access into apartments. That’s why it is important to evaluate your balcony for security risks regardless of the building you are located in. Luckily, there are a number of simple ways that you can make your balcony safer.
Security locks for door and windows
Balcony windows and doors should be treated with the same level of security concern you show for other access points in your home. This means keeping them locked when nobody is around or installing security gates or burglar bars. However, because of the nature of these types of doors or windows this isn’t always possible. This is where a device such as the LockLatch or Minilatch comes into play. These security devices can be fitted to any type of balcony opening from wooden windows through to sliding aluminium style doors. The latch locks the door in place meaning that you can leave them slightly ajar letting cool air in without compromising on security.
Install security cameras
Security cameras aren’t just about spotting intruders when they try to break in, but also function as a deterrent. Burglars are adept at spotting security measures and will almost always choose a soft target over a more difficult one. Simply having security cameras installed may be enough for a burglar to reconsider breaking into your home.
Motion sensor lights
Just like security cameras, motion sensor lights provide a visual deterrent for would-be thieves. If a thief is attempting to climb onto a balcony and a light goes on this will usually be enough to scare them off.
Anti-lift device on hinges and locks
Because so many balconies make use of patio or sliding doors it is important to make sure that these don’t create a security weak spot. These types of doors are notorious for being able to be lifted off their rails or hinges. It is important that anti-lift devices are installed to prevent this from happening. This is another area where the LockLatch or MiniLatch devices shine, as they secure the door in place, making lifting it almost impossible.
Balcony safety for your children and pets
There are a number of measures you can take to make your balcony a safer space for children and pets, but when it comes to safety the golden rule is never leave them unsupervised. No safety measure can be 100% effective and they should never lull parents or pet owners into a false sense of security.
Locks for door and windows
We’ve covered this from a security angle, but when it comes to pet or child safety on balconies, ensuring that doors and windows are locked is just as important. Installing a lockable window or door latch such as a LockLatch or MiniLatch means that your child can’t gain access to your balcony when you aren’t there to supervise them, which goes a long way to mitigating the balcony safety risks.
Remove any obstacles that can aid in climbing
Children are naturally adventurous and will often climb things without completely understanding the risks. This means that things that are relatively commonplace on balconies can pose huge risks for children or pets. Outdoor furniture or plants placed next to the railing should be moved away or removed from the balcony completely to make it as safe as possible for your little ones.
Install an extended railing
As the name suggests an extended balcony railing is a safety measure that makes your balcony railing higher. These come in different forms but all serve the same purpose of making it harder for children and even adults to fall over the rail and injure themselves.
Be aware of spacing between slats on balcony railing
While falling over a balcony railing is a major safety concern when it comes to safety for children and pets the spaces between the supports of a balcony rail can be even more dangerous. You should consider whether this space is large enough for your child or pet to climb through and if it is, you will need to install a safety net. These are usually mesh sheets which fit against the balcony making it impossible for a child or pet to fall though.
As a final point you should continuously assess the safety of your balcony and ensure that it is properly maintained. As with all structures balconies can become less safe over time. Fittings can loosen, wood can rot and metal can rust. It is important to regularly check that your balcony is structurally sound and if it isn’t, it is imperative to get it fixed as soon as possible.
LockLatch- Leave any window or door open, but locked.
Whether you are concerned about safety or security, why not start with a product that helps for both, by installing a LockLatch on your balcony door or window to keep children and pets in, and intruders out.