5 Deck Safety Tips To Keep You And Your Loved Ones Safe This Summer
Dan Levenson May 26, 2020
May is deck safety month. So as you prepare your yard for summer, it’s crucial to remember to inspect your deck.
The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) warn that over 40 million decks currently in use are over 20 years old. And while the number of people injured annually as a result of deck collapse remains unclear, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more than 220,000 people have been injured due to deck failure or collapse. That’s about 6,000 injuries per year.
Although the number might seem low, its consequences can be devastating. If injury lawsuits are filed against you or your business, you may end up losing thousands of dollars in defense and settlement costs. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Experts say those deck failures are avoidable. We want to help keep you, your loved ones, and your customers safe this summer. So in this blog post, we share five safety tips to keep in mind as you prepare for summer.
Install Or Check Deck Flashing
A ledger board usually connects a deck to the house. While most ledger boards are known to withstand wet conditions, the lumber used in most houses is meant to remain dry. And as a result, construction experts recommend decks to have flashing.
Flashing is a small piece of metal that channels snow and rainwater away from the joint between the house and the deck. Without it, the lumber may take a beating from water and ultimately compromise the quality of your deck.
Therefore, it may be a good idea to ensure your deck has flashing. If you’re not sure about it, ask a specialized deck builder to help. Most decks (old and new) that don’t have flashing are more likely to have been constructed by people who don’t understand building codes or those who usually cut corners to save money.
Install Or Check Guardrails
Guardrails stop people from falling off the deck. If your deck is higher than 30 inches above the ground, it may be wise to have guardrails. The specific heights vary from one insurance company to another, so check with your insurer before installing them.
Also, if you have steps or stairs on your deck, they must have handrails for safety. Generally, the top of most handrails should be at least 34 inches but less than 38 inches high. And just like guardrails, it is prudent to work with your insurer’s specifications.
Any component that holds your deck together can be compromised. As such, it’s important to inspect the security of every anchor, nail, screw, or bolt you can find.
Tighten any loose anchor or screws and hammer popped nails. Also, replace corroded fasteners immediately since corrosion promotes wood decay. Rusty fasteners can also snap and cause accidents.
And while at it, be aware of your environment. Deck fasteners in coastal areas are more likely to rust faster than those in other locations. They, therefore, need frequent checking and maintenance.
Watch Out For Pest Damage
Although most decks today are made from pressure-treated wood to keep pests away, those constructed in the 1980s weren’t. Most of these decks are prone to pest damage since carpenter ants and termites can find their way into the spots where your deck connects with the house. This can force the deck to move away from the house causing a major safety hazard.
Replace Cracked Or Rotten Wood
Most wood splits with time. Therefore, it is wise to watch out for big cracks as they can weaken your deck, particularly when they develop around fasteners.
And in colder climates, water may get into the cracks and cause rotting. So if you notice any sign of rotting, have a professional check, and replace the affected wood before it is too late.
Deck safety is so important that the whole month of May is set aside for it. As you prepare for summer, we encourage you to check your deck and make sure it’s safe for you and your loved ones. If you need assistance, please contact us. We have a team of friendly risk assessment specialists ready to help.