Porch/Patio Screen Safety

Screens that enclose a porch or patio are not designed to prevent children or adults from falling. Screens on decks or second stories need to have pickets on the bottom section to prevent children from falling through the screen. Local building ordinances will describe the requirements needed for these. Consider your porch or patio enclosure as an outdoor room for insect protection only. These should not be considered a child safe room that will keep children from falling or pool areas.

As with all of these screen related products, the screen fabric can degrade overtime by outdoor exposure and sun damage. The screen fabric may become brittle and weaken over time. It may look strong, but has no structure or protection from falls. Children should always be supervised in Porch or patio screen enclosures. Do not trust the screen fabric or screen doors latches to be secure enough to prevent a child from exiting.

Safety Tips

Balcony/porches and patios can be dangerous places for children to play. However, parents can take some simple steps to ensure the safety of their children. Homes that contain a balcony/porch or patio can pose a huge risk to the safety of a child. Special steps may be required to child proof a balcony or patio area. Children are curious and that’s a fact of life that we adults just have to accept. It is also our jobs as parents to ensure the safety of these children. That is why it is so important to have a plan for patio safety for children. You want your outdoor refuge to stay an outdoor refuge, not an instrument that can harm a child. Some of the tips below might give you insight on more ways to keep your children protected while enjoying your outdoor porch or patio area.

  • Balcony/porch or patio rails should not be more than are 4 inches apart, special measures need to be taken to avoid a child falling through or becoming stuck between the rails.
  • Don't leave young children unsupervised on porches or decks, and teach older ones about porch patio safety.
  • Use a childproof safety gate to block off stairways and stairwells.
  • Use multiple child safety locks on all doors leading to the porch or patio area.
  • Do not rely on the screen door to keep your child inside the house.
  • Do not leave furniture out, especially near the edges as a child can climb on the furniture and fall.
  • Make sure the area is in good condition. A broken board or missing picket in a balcony rail can not only cause a child to fall off the balcony, but sharp edges can cut the child.
  • Parents should inspect the homes that they will visit with their child as well. They should even take a gate with them so that they can keep their child safe for the visit, especially when visiting the homes of people who do not have children of their own. And don’t be afraid to speak up and let the owners know of any dangers that you find, especially since disrepair can also cause injury to an adult.
  • If your patio is an extension of your home, say right outside your back door, make sure that any glass doors and windows (like storm or sliding glass doors and windows) have the safety tempered glass installed. Be sure to keep the windows and doors to the outside patio area locked so children do not wander off with you knowing about it.
  • Small children love putting things in their mouths. So if you have plants on your patio, be sure that none of them are toxic if accidentally ingested. Along the same lines, if you treat the patio area for ants or insects, keep the kids away from the area for several hours until the poison dissipates or dries. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the insect treatments to be safe.
  • Some people have fire or barbecue pits on their patios. In order to promote patio safety for children, never leave children unattended with a lit fire pit and barbecue going. Children can be rambunctious and tend to knock things over in their exuberance. They could accidentally knock the fire out onto the patio which could then spread, endangering not only their lives but also the house. An adult should never leave a fire unattended; much less have a child in the vicinity when a fire is lit.
  • Some people have storage shelves or cabinets on their patio that houses garden tools and chemicals. Either these chemicals and tools need to be relocated to another part of the home or they need to be kept under lock and key, away from the curiosity of children. There are many household accidents every year from children ingesting a chemical or yard pesticide and even cutting themselves on lawn tools. Avoid the trip to the emergency room and lock those things away.
  • When child-proofing your home, hire a consultant to give you guidance as to what to avoid. While most of this consulting is done primarily inside the home, it would be a smart move to extend that to the porch or patio area as well, especially if it is used a lot. Chances are that the consultant would see and recognize more hazards than you would.
  • When in doubt, try to think like a child. Get on your hands and knees and look at the world at their level. You will have an entirely difference perspective when looking up instead of down. To make the patio a true outdoor haven, ensuring the safety of your children is of utmost importance.
  • Teaching your child about safety is also another important tool in addition to physical safety measures. Make sure your child knows not to go out of the house without an adult.
  • Most important is to be careful not to leave the child unsupervised while in a porch or patio area. Even if you have to run into the house for just a second, anything can happen as soon as your back is turned.

Learn More