Having a balcony attached to your apartment improves your lifestyle, and we love our outdoor entertaining areas here in the Top End. A balcony gives you easy access to fresh air whenever you like. However, they do have several pitfalls, especially if you have children or pets. In fact, in New South Wales alone, more than 50 children die each year by falling from balconies and high windows. Here are some safety tips to help you make the most of your balcony while also keeping your loved ones safe.
Many tenants love to dry their laundry outside. This can be difficult to do when you live in an apartment. A balcony lets you dry your clothes in the sun, but you need to take care to comply with regulations on the matter. Because washing hanging from balconies detracts from the overall appearance of the property, you'll only be able to do this if your balcony isn't visible from the street.
Many properties prohibit smoking in common areas, and they are fully within their rights to do so. However, some properties allow smoking on private balconies. If you choose to smoke on your balcony, use an ashtray rather than flicking the cigarette butt over the side of the balcony. Always make sure that you put it out completely to minimise your risk of causing a fire.
Most balconies are built to withstand a significant amount of weight, but their capacity is limited. Check with your property manager or landlord to find out what the specific weight limit is for your balcony. If you put a heavy barbecue on your balcony and invite friends over for dinner, make sure you don't put yourself and your guests at risk by putting too much weight on the balcony.
Although your landlord will likely handle the costs of any necessary repairs, you are the one who will be using your balcony. It is up to you to notify your landlord of any maintenance issues. Check the guardrails periodically to ensure they are firmly attached to both the balcony itself and the side of the building. Keep an eye out for any rusting or water damage, too. Your landlord will need to address these problems right away to prevent further damage.
When you first move into a rental apartment with a balcony, take the time to educate your children on the proper precautions. Make sure they know they should never climb on the guardrails, nor roughhouse with their siblings or friends while on the balcony. Always supervise your children when they are out on the balcony. Even the most well-behaved children can succumb to peer pressure or over-excitement, forgetting the safety rules you taught them.
With pets, you don't have the luxury of being able to explain to them the reasons for taking safety precautions while on a balcony. You'll be responsible for ensuring your pets are safe. If you have small pets, wrap the guardrails with mosquito netting or chicken wire to keep them from squeezing through. Make sure any furniture is far enough away from the rails so your furry friends can't climb or jump over the edge.
You'll likely never experience any dangerous scenarios with your balcony. But it is still important to be aware of the risks, so you can avoid them whenever possible. As the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry. Just be sure to take the proper precautions to ensure your balcony experience is nothing but enjoyable.