The "No-slip Strip" Story
One Fall Too Many
By No-slip Strips inventor Bob Mensah, M.Sc. Technology Mgmt.
I've taken tumbles down the stairs. I've observed other people and pets have accidents on slippery stairs. Through my experiences, I feel their pain. Sometimes the injury heals quickly.
One particular morning, after I had returned home from neck surgery, I took a tumble down my carpeted stairs. It was a very serious accident and I knew my health was in danger. Henceforth I resolved to invest my resources and make sure that I'm never the victim of stairway accidents again! I wasn't sure how, but I was motivated to find a solution.
Research, research, research. I read articles about people falling down the stairs and how the fall drastically affected their lives. Some literally had broken bones. Others had to give up careers in sports or construction because of the damage they sustained during the fall. In my conversations with friends and neighbors, I learned that the majority of people think it’s mostly senior citizens who fall down the stairs, but my research proved otherwise. In fact, only 30% of stairway accident victims are over 65 years old! Hence I discovered that the problem of slipping on stairways is universal. I hear from customers every day about young people who fall on the stairs, pregnant women who need extra security when they are carrying more weight, parents who are perfectly fit and healthy when they take a fall down the stairs, and pets that are afraid to navigate the stairs.
The Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) report that over one million Americans slip or fall on stairways each year. This statistic does not include reports from Canada, UK, Australia, and other countries.
According to NOLO, “Stairs come with inherent dangers not usually present on level surfaces. These include dangers such as worn-down carpet, or wood that makes the part of the stair where your foot lands, particularly dangerous. Often a slightly worn stair or carpet is more perilous than obviously worn stairs – because people are not likely to notice the danger. Some stairs are made of tile or highly polished wood that is more slippery than others.” The cost of these falls are extremely high. In a report, published in 2007, OSHA found that falls from even a short distance, or a couple of steps, can result in serious injury.
At the time of one of my stairway accidents, my stairs had carpet on it. But on the advice of a contractor, I blew the budget and replaced my carpeted stairs with beautiful hardwood flooring. However after the conversion was completed, I discovered that wood stairs can be just as slippery as carpeted stairs, if not more slippery. I was still experiencing close calls even though I tried to be deliberate and take the stairs more slowly, and hold the handrails. I didn't know why at the time but I slipped more often in the mornings. Needless to say I felt disappointed by my contractor. Nevertheless he insisted that he had given me the best industry advice. To his credit, he later installed high-traction carpet runners for me at no charge. But after a couple of months, the carpet runners essentially took me back to the problem of carpeted stairs.
More research yields a solution for wood stairs. I began researching solutions. The guys and gals at my local hardware store know me well. I would roam the aisles and ask questions. I would take home different products and give them a try. Some of them worked, well sort of, and some of them didn't. I tried roughening up the steps on my own, knowing that some tactile difference would help. My wife said it looked horrible and I agreed. I tried different non-slip tapes. These worked but we disliked the industrial colors. So each idea helped a little, but nothing completely solved the problem. When people asked me what I was doing, and I explained, they agreed with me. “Keep at it,” they said. “If you find a solution, I’ll buy it!”
After many years of research and testing, I was able to manufacture non-slip traction tapes in basic colors and with varying traction levels, which made it more comfortable and attractive. Later we began manufacturing more translucent or clear non-slip traction tapes. Today, Clear Transparent Grit II is our bestseller for hardwood stairs.
Customers say my non-slip solutions for stairs help them lead a normal life. People tell me that they can now stay in their homes rather than move. Mothers tell me that they feel safer carrying their baby up and down the stairs. Some report that their pets are no longer afraid of the stairs. No-slip Strip have prevented numerous slip and fall accidents; No-slip Strip have given me the confidence to take the steps naturally, no matter what I'm wearing.
What about carpeted stairs? From my preliminary research I knew that the edge of stair treads presented the biggest problem. It’s the first area to wear out. So I needed some type of rough surface on the edge of each tread to help avoid slipping. And because carpeting is “fluffy” I needed some kind of durable platform on which to apply whatever I could find that would roughen the edge of each step.
Well at my local hardware store I found a very thin but durable aluminum strip that turned out to be a perfect platform. I was able to fasten the aluminum strip to the edge of each carpeted step by using the same small screws that are used to hold the boards underneath most carpets. Moreover I modified the aluminum (thanks to my graduate school Physics classes) such that the strip will automatically adapt to the carpet’s height (pile) during fastening. This process created a very slight slope toward the rear of the step; it created a slight buffer. The person descending the stairs comes in contact with the almost imperceptible slope and feels more assured, more balanced and secure. And conversely, if someone is ascending the steps, the person adds more weight to the inside of the step because of the slope. Wow, I now had a solution for carpeted stairs. All I did next was to combine the durable aluminum strip with our non-slip traction tapes, and that was the solution!
Satisfied customers. Often I ask my customers if they are satisfied with the product. I tell them that the product is guaranteed and that I want to make sure they are happy with the results. The emails I receive from my customers are heartfelt and stirring. Here are some examples:
“What I love most is the confidence I now have. Even better is that you were able to match the color of my stairs. color of my stairs.” -Bill C. from Santa Ana, CA.
“I get compliments from clients and I have peace of mind knowing that I've done everything to protect my clients. I'm amazed at how a simple product can mean so much.” -Cindy B. from Wilmington, DE.
“Never before has a single purchase garnered so much praise and usefulness. My guests have become your customers and many more will be very soon.” -Charles W. from Orlando FL.
“Yes, I strongly will recommend your product for anyone who has fallen downstairs. Well, they should get it before. It works very well and appreciate it more each day.” -Brain J. from NJ.
“We are now able to walk down the steps in our bare feet and with socks without slipping and with confidence. We also like that they are discreet and let the beauty of the wood show through.” -Beau G. from Antigo, Wisconsin.
Solutions for outdoors stairs. My passion for preventing slip and fall accidents on stairs did not stop at solutions for carpeted stairs and hardwood stairs. Outdoor stairs can be equally dangerous, and so I developed and invented solutions for outside stairs – wood, concrete, etc.
An important objective was to develop a non-slip solution that could withstand harsh weather conditions. Outdoor traction tapes can withstand heavy rains, light snow, and ice; but they are unsuitable for heavy snow and ice because they could get destroyed when shoveling snow. Moreover porous surfaces like untreated wood require sealing so that the traction tapes do not degrade prematurely over the years.
Today we have solved these challenges by providing a complete solution in No-slip Tapes for Outdoors. It is a non-slip safety solution for wood stairs, concrete stairs, etc. and it is beautiful!
Tackling really harsh weather. However I did not neglect to tackle the harshest weather conditions – heavy rains, winds, and snow These conditions require heavy duty non-slip traction. But I needed to balance a solution with the practicality of occasional cleaning. First thought was to use a non-slip mat that was durable and heavy enough to remain in place during heavy winds. Furthermore the non-slip mat needed to prevent drifting when in use. This is a common problem I see when folks buy a non-slip mat and put on their stairs. Very often these non-slip mats grow legs and walk right off the steps. Perhaps they get blown away by heavy winds or the gradual shifting during use by people or pets knock them over the sides of steps. Therefore I experimented with weighted non-slip mats. Unfortunately the heavier non-slip mats were impossible to pick-up and clean.
Next I experimented with magnets to hold down the mats. This concept actually worked very well. Unfortunately the cost of the powerful neodymium magnets made the solution less affordable for most people. Above all I knew that the best solution had to be affordable, safe, and durable.
So I said to myself, “why not just screw down the non-slip mats?” Well that was another ok idea! However during the winter months it was difficult to clean the non-slip mats because they were bolted down. They could not be removed in order to remove the black-ice that had formed on the mats. I thought: “If only I could bolt down these non-slip mats but also be able to easily lift them for cleaning”. That was when the concept of a hinged non-slip mat surfaced.
Persistence pays off. Once again I was hard at work researching the right components to make the solution work. I needed the hinge to have a low profile so that it did not become a tripping hazard. I also needed the solution to be rust resistant and very durable to provide years of use. These requirements are all evident in our No-slip Mats solution today. No-slip Mats ship today as a complete non-slip safety solution and includes retaining screws for various surfaces like wood and concrete. No-slip Mats will flex a full 90 degrees for cleaning purposes. Moreover No-slip Mats can be installed at any time, even during winter. No-slip Mats provide superior traction all year round.
Thoroughly tested. Finding the right solutions to prevent stairway accidents was important. But it was really just the start. Next came extensive testing by real people. Every No-slip Strip solution is tested by beta groups for effectiveness and under various real world conditions (e.g. wet flooring or during winter conditions). Data is compiled and results measured. Products do not go to market until they pass evaluations for effectiveness, safety, and aesthetics. Our products are also NFSI certified and/or exceed ADA and OSHA safety guidelines.
Today, parents with smaller children can feel safer using No-slip Strip. Pregnant women can take stairs more confidently; and people who once considered moving because they feared a fall on the stairs, can stay in their homes longer. Business owners can now do more to protect their employees or tenants from stairway accidents.
Where do we go from here? Continuous improvement and focus on quality. I empathize with those who have fallen down the stairs because I know how much it hurts initially and over time. I really want everyone to know that they have many options against slippery stairs. We now have solutions for carpeted stairs, concrete stairs, wooden stairs, marble stairs, laminate stairs, vinyl stairs, tile and bamboo; indoors and outdoors. Our focus on quality permits us to manufacture in ISO 9001 facilities right here in the USA. We manufacture in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Thank-you to all those who have shared their experiences with me. Thanks to all those who provide feedback and encouragement. Your words fuel my passion, they motivate me. Please check back with us from time to time and let us know what you think about No-slip Strip solutions!
- Author: No-slip Strip Customer Service