Contact: 1-888-ICC-SAFE (422-7233)
Jennifer Gibson, ext. 4224
Steve Daggers, 708-351-8880 (cell)
As summer approaches, The International Code Council is urging homeowners to take the time to
check their outdoor areas for potential safety hazards. Proper inspections now can help to keep your
family and friends safe in the future. The International Code Council, a membership organization
dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and
commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt
codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.
Porches, Decks and Balconies
Porches can be at risk of collapsing if they are not properly constructed or if they are old. A common
safety hazard occurs when porches are nailed to buildings rather than being attached with the proper
anchors or bolts. Nails are a poor method for attaching porches to buildings because they work their way
loose over time. Other safety hazards to look for are:
Building or repairing to code, which requires a building permit and an inspection, will help ensure
that the porch is safe. The International Codes specify the amount of weight a porch is required to
support. However, be careful not to allow the porch to become overcrowded. If the people on the
structure have difficulty moving about, the porch could be exceeding its capacity.
- Split or rotting wood
- Wobbly handrails or guardrails
- Loose, missing or rusting anchors, nails or screws
- Missing, damaged or loose support beams and planking
- Poor end support of the porch deck, joists or girders
- Excessive movement of the porch when walked on
- Swaying or unstable porches
Grilling on or near combustible areas can be a fire hazard. It not only puts your family and visitors at
risk, but, especially in condos and apartment buildings, can put your neighbors in danger as well. The
most common grilling hazards are open flames and heat generated in the grill base that can be
transferred to the wood of a porch or the home’s siding, causing a fire. When grilling, follow these
- Place the grill away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging
- Periodically remove grease or fat buildup
- Use only proper starter fluid and store the can away from heat sources
- Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks before use
- Do not move hot grills
- Dispose of charcoal properly, keeping ash containers outside and away from combustible construction
The 2003 International Fire Code prohibits the use of charcoal and gas grills and other open burning
devices on combustible porches or within 10 feet of combustible construction. There are exceptions for
certain homes and where buildings and porches are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.
Because they can be attractive — and dangerous — to young children, in-ground and above-ground
pools should be surrounded by a fence or other barrier. Small, inflatable pools must also be protected.
The International Building Code states that any pool with more than 24 inches of water has to have a
four-foot fence or other barrier around it. Any gates in the fence must be self-closing and self-latching.
Other things to consider when installing a pool:
The International Codes provide minimum standards to help communities protect lives and property.
Before conducting any type of work on your home, contact your local building department to determine
what permits are needed and what codes must be followed.
- Building permit requirements
- Zoning requirements
- Electrical clearances and utility easements
- Insurance policies