Hotel Balcony Safety

One of the great pleasures of parenting is being able to take your children on vacation and watch them experience new things through their eyes. However, you are leaving the security and comfort of your own home and you need to take precautions to ensure the safety of your little one while on the road. One place of concern is the hotel balcony. It’s always enjoyable to have a nice walk-out deck off your hotel room to enjoy the nice weather and views. This is also very enticing to your young children. Being prepared not only prevents falls and suffocation but also adds to your ability to relax and enjoy your time on vacation as well.

All US states have minimum safety standards when it comes to above grade deck and balcony rails. Typically, the minimum height of the railing is 30″ and the spacing between balusters is no more than 4″. However each state and/or county can vary. Older hotels may have been built before the code was in place and others may simply be out of compliance all together. In short, you simply can’t count on the hotel or resort when it comes to your child’s safety. There are several things that can be done to help keep you and your family safe while out on the deck. First, you should always call the hotel or resort and ask if they have any child safety measures that they can implement before your arrival. This can include outlet plugs, window guards, poison control, etc. Be sure to ask about the deck and the railing system for the room you will be staying in.

– Is there a child safety lock on the door leading to the balcony?

– How tall are the railings?

– What is the baluster spacing?

– How far off the deck floor is the bottom railing?

– Is there furniture on the deck and if so, is it light and easily moved?

Try to get a feeling for the overall safety of the balcony before ever even leaving your home. If you’re still a little uncomfortable with what you hear, there are measures you can take to keep your children safe and make the trip as worry free as possible. If there is a railing system there but you’re concerned about the baluster spacing, you can bring along deck railing safety netting. The netting is light enough to be packed in your luggage and is easily cut to fit and attaches to the railing with the zip ties. This will keep your child from putting her head through. The zip ties are cut at the end of your stay, leaving no trace of the safety netting. Be sure to use the child safety lock on the door leading to the deck. This is not the lock for the door but a secondary lock, higher up, out of the reach of the kids. Check the furniture on the balcony. Can the little ones climb on it to reach the top of the railing? Can they move it themselves? If so, be sure to bring this furniture in when you’re not using it or asked the hotel to store it somewhere else for your stay. And of course, always use common sense. Don’t leave the door open when you’re not out there. Always stay with your child when he is out on the balcony. Just a small measure of fore thought can keep your mind at easy, making the vacation as enjoyable for you as it will be for them.

Church Design Tidbits: Balconies and Landscaping

In this article, we will be giving some design tidbits for two unrelated, but important, features of your church project: balcony seating and landscaping.

Balcony Seating

When properly designed, balcony seating has some benefits worth considering. Balconies can solve the problem of future expansion as the congregation grows and can enable a church with limited land to expand “up” rather than “out”. In fan-shaped sanctuaries a balcony can increase the seating by almost 50%. A future balcony should be master-planned from the start with the major structure completed during the sanctuary construction. A removable wall can temporarily hide this unfinished space.

Many people assume that a balcony is always an inexpensive and smart way to expand. However, the floor system, structural framing, riser framing, handrails and multiple stairways are an additional expense not incurred when seating on the main level. The primary problem with balcony seating, however, is often not related to construction costs. Many people complain of feeling like spectators when sitting in a balcony, and balconies often do not provide good visibility of, or easy access to, the altar area. Furthermore, it’s simply difficult to see someone’s face beyond about 65 feet. Since the sight-line is downward, balcony handrails and the person in the row ahead often block the view as well. Problems related to the seats under the balcony may include columns, low ceilings and poor sound or lighting.

Some elements of good design include stairs or stadium seating on the sides with easy access to the main floor, two steps per row for added visibility, high-back pews to alleviate the fear of falling forward, glass or narrow rails in the upper half of balcony walls, and large-screen video monitors or projection screens.


While landscaping can add immensely to the value, beauty and comfort of a church site, most architectural firms do not provide detailed landscaping design in their scope of services unless specifically requested by the owner. Many jurisdictions will require a rudimentary landscaping plan consisting of a site plan indicating the location, type and size of new and existing trees and shrubs, areas of sod and mulch, as well as an erosion control plan. It is now common for permit authorities to require landscaping islands in the parking areas based upon the amount of pavement. These islands are usually located at the ends of parking rows. Landscaping islands, however, can become an impediment to snow removal. In transition yards (a green area separating the church parking lot or buildings from adjoining residential or commercial property) a screen of trees and shrubs is also often required by permit authorities.

Deciduous trees on the south and west of the building will shade and cool the church in summer yet let warming sunlight through the bare branches in winter. The church should select hardy plant types that require little maintenance. Keep in mind that the little shrubs being planted may quickly grow too large for their placement near parking spaces, sidewalks, and buildings.

The church should consider the benefits of good landscaping design. A knowledgeable landscape architect can be hired to develop a master plan for landscaping that can be developed over time as funds become available.

Decorating Your Balcony

The balcony is an extension of the home, and it is an area where many people relax and read a good book, enjoy beverages, and enjoy the great outdoors. It is an area that is often outfitted to complement the seasons or for any reason, and if you enjoy entertaining on the balcony, you can make your home’s balcony an impressive space where family and friends will also like to spend time. Consider the following steps to decorate a balcony, and transform your ordinary outdoor space into an extraordinary place for relaxing and spending time.

Decide on a Holiday, Theme, Season, or Design. The chosen theme will determine the items that you use to decorate your outdoor space. For additional, consider adding pots of flowers, vines and foliage during spring and summer. In the fall, it can be decorated with small bales of hay, pumpkins, and friendly scarecrows. Seasonal or holiday decor can be used to decorate your outdoor space during the winter. Your balcony can change with every season and holiday. Decorate according to your personal preference and style, and make your balcony a place where you can show off with ever-changing uniqueness and creativity.

Begin by Cleaning. Before starting the process of decorating the balcony, it is important that you clean the balcony, no matter how it will be used. You must get rid of any items that are not necessary and completely remove any debris and dirt. In addition, eliminate any webs or dirt on vertical surfaces prior to beginning to furnish and decorate your outdoor space. It will be much more inviting and comfortable if the area is clean.

Adding Comfortable Furnishings and Accessories. Balcony seating that can be adjusted should be used because it allows for enhanced comfort of folks enjoying the balcony. Before beginning to decorate a balcony, select outdoor seating wisely, and invest in furniture that is likely to be used instead of going for the cheapest options. Also, select side tables that are useful for holding beverages and snacks. Make sure that outdoor furnishings are something you will be proud to show off on a balcony. When cared for properly, wood, metal, or wicker can last for years into the future and will increase the overall appearance of your balcony.

Decorate with Larger Pieces First. After preparing and outfitting your balcony with furnishings, decorate with larger pieces first. For example, when setting up fall decor, place small bales of straw or hay in corners, and use them as platforms for displaying carved pumpkins, scarecrows, gourds, and any other fall decorations. Once larger pieces are in place, smaller accessories can be moved and arranged as necessary.

Select Balcony Decor. It is not necessary to browse the seasonal aisle of discount stores or home improvement stores to find just the right accessories to decorate a balcony. Come up with unique outdoor decor that include items you have found at tag sales, decoys, and other items not typically used for decorating. You can attract more attention to the balcony if you adorn the balcony with one-of-a-kind furnishings and accessories. Best of all, you will be able to sit back and relax in an outdoor area that is well decorated and uniquely stylish.

Using Lighting to Decorate. Balconies provide the ideal getaway for entertaining family and friends, and a balcony that is often in use will need outdoor lighting. You should consider all-weather rope lighting to adorn the balcony. This type of ornamental lighting can be found in many different lengths and colors, and it can be cut or extended to fit any space. Rope lighting looks attractive when placed under a balcony railing or around the base. Indoor/Outdoor lights used to decorate during winter holidays are ideal for placing around outdoor displays, and they provide just the right amount of light on dark, spring, summer, fall, or winter nights. With a little bit of care, and some planning, you can create an inviting and ideal atmosphere on the balcony that will be a welcome sight at day’s end.