Your deck is a great outdoor space to relax with your family and entertain friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, many injuries occur on decks each year. Learning how to improve deck safety will help you keep kids and pets safe on your deck.

Why You Need to Improve Deck Safety

Each deck is unique, but all designs have risks. Friends, family, and even pets can be injured by splintering or weak boards, loose rails, or hazards on the deck. These are a few of the steps that you can take to help improve deck safety and enjoy your space.

1. Inspect the Condition of Each Board

Poor construction, deterioration over time, and weather conditions can affect each decking board. When a board does not lay flush with the other surfaces, tripping is a hazard. Boards that are splintered may injure feet and hands. Weakness due to deteriorating supports or decking boards can impair the structural integrity of the entire deck.

Every few months, inspect the condition of your deck. Maintain your deck by regularly staining or sealing the wood to help preserve its condition.

2. Install Lighting to Improve Deck Safety

At dusk, visibility is reduced on your deck. Most decks are elevated at least a foot or two above ground, and some have stairs leading down to the ground. The entire deck and all stairs should be well-illuminated with well-placed lighting. The stairs may still be dark when only a house-mounted light is on, so it’s best for staircases to have their own lights.

3. Confirm the Integrity of Railings

Building codes in most areas dictate that railings should be added to decks that are a certain number of inches above the ground. These railings should have bars or rods at regular intervals placed no more than 4 inches apart. Learn more about building codes in your area and comply with them for maximum safety.

When you inspect the condition of your deck, test the railings to make sure they are secure. Each rod or bar should be individually inspected. Repair any loose or unstable sections of your deck.

4. Remove Hazardous Items

Some deck injuries result from the items stored on the deck rather than from the deck itself. For example, a hot grill, various lawn and pest chemicals, and toxic plants are a few of the items on a deck that may cause harm to children and pets. Keep the door leading to your deck locked if these items are present to prevent accidents, or choose a safer place to store them.

Take steps to improve deck safety and create a more enjoyable outdoor space. While these steps promote general safety, some decks may have other hazards, so take time to assess all risks on your deck. May is National Deck Safety Month and a perfect time to take action and prepare your deck for summer.

Jamie Schaefer Professional Home Inspector provides home inspection services to the New York Metropolitan area. Contact us to schedule our services.