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Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes
Reducing Slips, Falls and Trips with Lighting

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

This private residence utilizes Mini MERCURE compact path lights that are installed flush with the ground in order to guide visitors safely to the front door. They give off nine watts of soft light and are made by Targetti.

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

When placing lights for stairs, Ryan Prange of Falling Waters Landscape, Inc., offers several bits of great advice; "Make the light fixture as unobtrusive as possible... Also, you don't want to have a light that shines in peoples faces at a certain level as they are walking up steps." Pictures of Falling Water Landscape's can be seen on their Instagram page @fallingwaterslandscape.

Besides utilizing lights in the landscape to illuminate aesthetic qualities or enhance security, lights can, and should, serve an integral part of providing safety as well. It could be considered common knowledge that a well lit public area reduces crime and thus, in-turn, increases safety. Riding on that same train-of-thought, an adequately lit landscape, whether it is public or private, can be a simple tactic employed by landscape contractors and landscape designers to limit slipping, falling or tripping.

The information found within the closed confines of this article aim to promote the knowledge of utilizing light in order to reduce the risk of injury from slipping, tripping or falling that may result from inadequate lighting.

When discussing best practices for placing light fixtures, Hunter Booth of Booth Design Group, states that minimizing glare is key.
"The way to safely light a property is to take into account glare and make sure people aren't looking directly into the lights," Booth states. "To have light safety is to have different intensities of light focused where you want and never directly in someone's face."

The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that each year over 800,000 people are hospitalized due to a fall related injury that occurred at their home or residence. Additionally, their website states that "one out of five falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury," meaning that approximately 4 million people experience a fall around their residence each year, equating to 800,000 of them requiring medical attention.

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

This picture of a rooftop terrace in Florida provides an excellent example of how lighting can create awareness of an unsafe area. The Volt cast brass eyelid deck lights brighten a three-foot wide area that is not intended for walking or living, but instead intended to be a buffering zone between the deck and the ground located 12 feet below. The ABR cast iron tiki-torch lights deliver a swath of illumination and lights up the entire area, in turn highlighting the two-foot drop between the deck and the buffering zone. The lights also don't obstruct or conceal the two-foot drop in anyway.

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

This private residence in Texas won the 2016 Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals' Award of Merit for Outdoor Living Lighting. The fixtures were installed and their locations were designated by Joel Mayor and Mike McGinty of Texas Outdoor Lighting. Floodlights on the roof illuminate the entire area while lamp lighting delineates the staircase.

The CDC offers several strategies in reducing the risk of falls around the home and one of the four main ways is "Mak[ing] sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs."

A PowerPoint created by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration notes that slips, trips and falls account for 15%, 12,000 yearly, of all accidental deaths in the United States. That same presentation lists poor light, glare and shadows as the first three environmental conditions that increase the risk of trips and slips.

Lighting Staircases, Pools and Driveways
Anytime lights are going to be implemented in a landscape, there are a few spaces that should be given close attention in order to limit the risk of accidents. Those areas include, but are not limited to: staircases, pools and driveways.

The National Safety Council states that over 1 million injuries result each year due to the result of stairway falls. provides a number of helpful tips when it comes to installing lights for a staircase. Their website article suggests carefully examining the staircase during various hours of the day and night in order to find out what specific areas need the most lighting. Furthermore, they make note that there are a multitude of different lighting fixtures that can effectively shine light and increase safety. These include lights placed flush (either on the sides of the treads, in the risers or just flanking the entire set), downlights around the staircase, or maybe just one large floodlight.

Ryan Prange of Falling Waters Landscape, Inc. in San Diego, states that lighting for pathways and steps are of the highest importance.

"If the clients budget restricts the amount of lighting fixtures to be installed, always insist that pathways and steps take the first priority," says Prange. "Even though it may look nice to have that specimen tree, water feature, or garden sculpture lit up at night, you should always make sure that the pathways and steps are first and foremost adequately lit."

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

If there was any quandary regarding the use of lights as an element of safety, then this photo should abolish that dilemma. A small dusting of snow on this Marylander pier would be unfathomably more dangerous if there were no lights. Dave Underwood, owner of Chesapeake Irrigation and Lighting of Millersville, MD., installed the lights; 2-watt LEDs were mounted on the pilings while the boathouse itself was lit with 10-watt LEDs.

Utilization of Lighting for Safety Purposes

This project features a renovated lakehouse that has a two story deck. Accent lighting highlights the trees while downlighting illuminates the numerous paths and staircase. Kyle Adamson, owner and outdoor lighting designer with Red Oak Outdoor Lighting from Lexington, KY, did the design, while, Cutting Edge Landscape, owned by Andy Stachon, were the landscape contractors.

Pool lighting is different because not only do you have to ensure that the pool deck is amply lit, it is also important to guarantee that under the water's surface is illuminated as well. Within the 2018 April issue of Landscape Contractor magazine is an in depth article outlining best practices for safely installing aquatic lighting. However, that feature fails to examine the philosophy behind why one should install lights in and around a pool specifically for safety purposes.

For standard rectangular pools, underwater lighting should not be too much of a problem to negotiate. One very important aspect that should be considered when installing underwater pool lights is that every depth level of the pool should be clearly visible from all angles. This means that the deep end is equally as lit as the shallow end. Of course complications arise when the pool is irregularly shaped. However, the same idea applies; all areas need to be properly illuminated regardless of depth.

Properly installing lights around the pool deck is also imperative. Keeping in mind that light will reflect more off of a wet pool deck, the fixtures should be placed so that they minimize glare. The way to do this, according to Hunter Booth, is to place fixtures in high locations that cast light downward.

Driveways are the final important area I would like to discuss. Making sure that they are appropriately lit will reduce the likely hood of crashing into anything in the vicinity. has a helpful page containing nine tips for lighting up a driveway. The first suggestion provided is to define the borders of the driveway. This helps guide guests towards a proper parking area and steers them away from landscaped areas.

As seen in LC/DBM magazine, November 2018.

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November 13, 2019, 8:05 pm PDT

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