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Tips for a Safe Summer Season on Your Deck
May is Deck Safety Month

April 23, 2007 (ARA Content) - Gas prices are on the rise again, the number of people traveling is down and families are choosing to spend more time at home enjoying their decks. And with so many accessories available that make the yard an oasis -- from solar fountains and fire pit tables to stainless gas grills -- the deck extends the living space and creates an at-home vacation spot.

Whether for entertainment, family time or just quiet enjoyment, a well-built deck offers a safe haven for outdoor living. A deck offers increased square footage and better pay back than a kitchen or bath remodel. As with any sound investment, it’s important to do proper maintenance to preserve the integrity of the deck.

The number of deck failures and resulting injuries has been increasing at an alarming rate. Between August 2004 and December 2005, the U.S. news media reported 225 injuries and one fatality from deck collapses caused by ledger connection failures. Many more deck failures -- with and without injuries -- went unreported in the media.

In an effort to save lives and prevent injuries, the North American Deck and Railing Association, Inc. (NADRA) declared May as the first Deck Safety Month in 2006. Now in its second year, the purpose of the promotion is to increase public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks, and proper installation of new decks.

Reasons for a deck collapsing range from age of the deck, poor maintenance, exceeding load capacity to improper building methods. Deck failures can be avoided. It’s a matter of making the consumer aware of the necessity of choosing a professional deck contractor, regular maintenance and inspection, and knowing the limits of the deck structure.

Mike Beaudry, executive vice president for NADRA states, “A simple, annual deck inspection doesn’t take long or require special tools, but it’s a great investment. It can help prevent unnecessary accidents, and keep a deck a safe place. Each May, we will encourage homeowners to get an annual deck inspection, with the goal of reducing the number of deck injuries suffered each year.”

“May is a great time to make a deck-check,” Beaudry continues, “especially in locations where there’s a lot of snow and ice, as a deck could develop a trouble spot over the winter. A professional inspection will examine every inch of a deck, evaluate the deck’s capacity limits, identify problem areas and provide a map of what to keep your eye on in the future.”

Researchers at Virginia Tech University in cooperation with the International Code Council have produced a “Manual for the Inspection of Residential Wood Decks and Balconies.” The manual is intended for use by homeowners, home inspectors, contractors, engineers and builders interested in the inspection of residential wood decks. Frank Woeste, a deck-safety expert of Virginia Tech, who helped develop the inspection manual, notes, “I’m aware of deck collapses with no one on them, further demonstrating the need for homeowners to get involved and interested in their deck’s structural integrity.” For more information or to purchase the inspection manual, go to nadra.org.

Complete a deck check every May for Deck Safety Month, and you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your family and friends can safely enjoy your deck all summer long. NADRA’s 10-Point Deck Inspection Checklist is available at nadra.org.

For extra safety, check out any deck accessories you use. As with any source of fire or heat, such as grills, fire pits, heaters of any kind and candles, make sure they are safely placed away from flammable surfaces, use caution and follow manufacturers’ directions. Make sure steps and pathways are well lit and all lighting, electrical outlets and appliances are up to code, in good condition and childproof if necessary.

Test all deck furniture for sturdiness. Childproof storage boxes and benches. Store all dangerous products safely away from children, including barbecue lighter fluids and matches. If you have trees surrounding your deck, look for decaying or broken limbs that could fall on the deck.

Courtesy of ARA Content.


North American Deck and Railing Association
P.O. Box 829, Quakertown, PA 18951
Phone: 215.679.4884 - Fax: 888.623.7248

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