National Deck Safety Month – Deck Safety Checklist
In just a four-year period, over 220,000 people were injured throughout the country on their deck or porch. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, around 15 percent of these injuries were the result of a structural failure or collapse.
There’s no doubt about it, having a deck, porch, or patio attached to your home is a worthwhile addition. It can add value, provide you with exceptional views, and be a glorious space to relax during the warmer months, but without proper care during the building process, or correct maintenance over time, your deck, and its railings, may not be as safe as you think they are.
Don’t become a statistic. Take note of the helpful advice the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) provides and complete regular deck inspections for your family’s peace of mind.
Four main areas need your regular attention:
The ledgers need careful attention, as, without proper hardware to secure them, they are vulnerable to damage and wear and tear over time. The hardware is just as important. Have you noticed any rust, cracks, or warping? It might be time to begin replacing these vital components.
Framing is possibly the most noticeable and the most critical part of all. If your wood isn’t treated, or it’s beginning to rot, decay, or become cracked or splintered, take note. You may need to consider replacing the framework. Along with framework, it’s helpful also to inspect your footers.
These should be installed at the correct depth and width using footer-to-post fasteners for additional strength and durability. If you’re not confident to undertake these checks yourself, it’s always a good idea to hire a decking expert.
While ledgers, hardware, framing, and footers are all crucial components needing your attention during a deck check, so too are those smaller components you may not pay as much attention to. While you’re lounging on your deck with a cold beverage or a book in hand, do you ever pay attention to the other potential hazards lurking?
Stairs, Railings, and Banisters
The higher your deck is off the ground, the more critical your railings, banisters, and stairs are. Handrails and balusters should be firmly in place, attached securely, and made of structurally stable materials. If you find that wood components are beginning to age, or metal is beginning to rust, it might be time to make some repairs.
What’s more, it’s also helpful to always keep stairways free of hazards. Be on the lookout for tripping hazards such as loose nails, faulty panels, and children’s toys.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Keeping your deck in pristine condition is going to be both beneficial for your safety and for the health of all the structural components. In a previous article, we covered how to maintain your deck, but we’ve included a few extra tips here. Be sure to keep it clear of leaves to prevent the build-up of slippery mildew and check areas that are always wet. If you haven’t already, consider coating your decking timber with a waterproof coating before winter sets in. This can help to protect it from rotting, decaying, and splitting.
Outdoor Entertainment and Furniture
There’s no doubt about it, a deck is an excellent area in which to entertain friends and family, but is it safe? While you might be more worried about keeping your drinks cold and the conversation flowing, being satisfied with the safety of the area is equally as important.
Be sure that all fire pits, grills, candles, and heaters are away from flammable surfaces, and always incorporate a non-flammable pad around cooking or fire pit areas. The last thing you want is a slow, smoldering fire to turn into something you can’t control.
Your choice of lighting is also important. Keep light covers clear of debris, ensure all wiring is waterproof, and keep it stored safely out of high-traffic areas. Always use lighting that’s suitable for the outdoors, rather than indoor lighting.
Even the seating for you and your guests is something to consider. The last thing you want is a chair to collapse and cause an injury. Check all chairs for structural integrity, check hooks and fixtures of hammocks and benches, and don’t place any furniture near the balcony edge.
Keeping your deck well maintained and safe is not only a good idea for your peace of mind, but also for its longevity. The more time you spend maintaining it, the more years you will have to enjoy it.