Part of the fun of summertime is the ability to use your outdoor deck for barbecues, eating al fresco or simply enjoying the warm weather.
Before you and your family set up camp out back, take a moment to give your deck a once-over, to help make sure your summer celebrations are as safe as possible. You can help avoid safety concerns by remembering to “BE SAFER,” outdoor architecture company Archadeck’s acronym for seven important safety tips for your backyard deck.
Hey, it’s easy to remember, right? So, let’s break it down:
B is for Boards: Are the boards of your deck warped, splintering, or mildewed? Give the surface a good brush-down, sand problem spots, and clean stains as you would if it were an inside floor. Clean between the cracks, too. There’s no way you can enforce a no-bare-feet policy, no matter how many pairs of flip-flops you pile up just outside the kitchen door.
E is for Every Connection: Check every connection in your deck. How does it connect to the house, to the stairs, to itself? Does the railing wobble? Make the rounds with a drill, screwdriver, pliers and hammer to get all the screws, nuts and nails in line.
S is for Structure: How’s the whole structure looking? Take a step back — to the other end of the backyard, or as far as you can get — and assess your deck for any sagging, tilting or off-kilter leaning.
A is for Attachment: How does your deck attach to the house? Whatever method was used to connect your house and deck, make sure it’s still doing its job. And if it’s not, you may want to call a professional to fix it.
F is for Foundation and Footings: Now check out your deck’s foundation. Are any of your footings sinking into the ground? If so, that may affect the whole structure.
E is for Exits: How do people leave your deck? Check all the exit points to make sure they’re still safe, especially any stairs. You should also make sure you have shatterproof glass next to any spots where people could stumble against your house’s windows. If you’ve been thinking about guard rails, this is a good time to act on that thought.
R is for Rails: Let’s talk some more about railings. Wiggle them (they shouldn’t wiggle back), check where the posts meet the deck, and run your hands down the length to check for rust or splinters there, too. And if, over the winter, you found yourself baby-proofing the house, you need to take a moment to do the same for your deck. The slats should be no more than 4 inches apart, and you might consider a deck guard (usually some kind of non-climbable mesh screen).
A contractor can typically help you fix these problems with your deck, to help make it safer for the whole family.
In addition to “BE SAFE,” the North American Deck and Railing Association says you may also want to take these additional precautions:
Now that the nice weather is here — and you’ve taken the proper safety precautions — it’s time to get out and enjoy your outdoor space.