Economically, stairs are costly. When people fall, they stay home from work. Their medical bills climb.
Your odds? Author Bill Bryson, in At Home, states that we will probably trip on stairs once in every 2,222 times that we use them, experience a painful accident once for every 734,000 and head for the hospital once every 3,616,667 times we go up or down–or more likely down because descending stairs is more dangerous. Furthermore, you are more likely to be hurt on steps if you are older than 65, unmarried, and in good physical shape. Finally, because there are more stairs at home than at the office, Bryson says that women are more likely to have a bad stair day.
As for stair history, Bryson speculates that the first stairs were used by miners. He mentions a 3,ooo year-old wooden staircase that descended 100 meters to a salt mine.
Stairs have changed our lives. Freeing workers’ hands because they no longer had to hold on to a ladder, stairs let miners carry a work load. The source of 2 and 3 story homes, they have resulted in more privacy, extra bedrooms, new architectural choices and additional medical bills.
Chapter by chapter, as At Home moves us through the house room by room, you can contemplate the economic impact, for example, of a typical 1851 kitchen without a sink or how people coped with candlelight. As this Washington Post review tells us, the book is so very good because it even includes the history of the fork…and any other facts you might never have realized you really wanted to know. And, they all really do have economic significance.