We have all heard about how so many accidents happen in the home. On average 6,000 deaths a year are from in home accidents. Honestly I don’t know if this includes the deck, but as I found out last week accidents happen on the deck as well. A simple miss step and I am in a cast for 6 weeks with a broken ankle. SO since I am stuck at my desk with my foot up and everyone is running around doing the heavy lifting for me let’s talk deck safety.
This time last year 30 people were injured when two decks collapsed on top of a third floor deck at a house party in Hartford, CT. HPD Deputy Chief knew right away what the problem was when he said “At this point, the third floor, you look and see the wood was very rotted and very old and structurally not very sound,”. Accidents like this can be avoided with regular inspections and maintenance.
Before you have your friends and family over check to make sure that the wood (especially the ledger board) are structurally sound. Take a thin sharp object like an ice pick and try to push it in to different parts of your deck, paying close attention to areas that are wet or damp regularly. If you can easily push the ice pick in, the wood is compromised and should be replaced.
As you inspect your deck by poking holes in it, keep your eyes open for other small holes. This can be a sign of termite or damage caused by other insects. If you think you may have termites look for the telltale signs. As termites mature they shed their wings. If you find piles of insect wings (they appear similar to small fish scales) you probably have an infestation. Along with wings you may come across termite feces. Also called frass, termite droppings are ridged and small. They look like small, wood colored pellets. When you find this you should sweep up the pile and return a few days later. If there is a new pile of frass you definitely have some unwanted insect guests. It’s time to call in an exterminator.
Just keep in mind if the wood on your deck looks questionable or unsafe, it probably is. It is better to spend a few dollars and replace it than send all your family (yes even your in-laws) to the emergency room. Now the ironic part is we had just finished repairing the damaged boards and re-staining the deck when I had my “incident”. I was stepping down off the deck to go to the grill that normally is on the deck. However since there was work going on it was on the lawn. So, my last tip for today, if you have a bunny living under your deck and your dog has been trying to “make friends with it”, watch where you put your feet. You’re liable to step in a bunny sized ditch. So after two broken bones and a 4 hour emergency room visit, Mr. Bunny will be getting evicted once I am up and around again. Watch out for those bunnies!