When the Thanksgiving holiday rolls around it’s the perfect time to make use of your deck before the real cold rolls in. With family and friends making the rounds you definitely want to make sure that your deck is safe for everyone – especially the youngest visitors.
An inadequate railing could be the biggest safety hazard if your deck is more than a few feet off the ground. If your deck was recently built and passed the building inspection you’re probably fine. However, if your deck is older it might not have been built to current code or time could have altered the integrity.
Check to ensure the following:
- That the railing is at least 3 feet high.
- Rails are no more than 4 inches apart.
- There’s no seating around the railing – remember kids are climbers. A seat right by the railing could give them the leverage they need to go over the edge.
If you find that your rails are wider than 4 inches apart or your deck has horizontal rails, look into adding a covering for the rails. Short of adding rails or replacing the railing system altogether this is the easiest fix. There are a variety of materials to choose from including Plexiglas, shade cloth and garden fencing.
Stairs pose another safety hazard for older and younger guests even if it’s just a few steps. Deck stairs without a handrail on at least one side is a recipe for disaster. One slight misstep without a handrail to hold on to and your guest could tumble down the staircase.
If you don’t already have one, consider adding a gate to the top of the staircase. Like railings, it should have no more than 4 inches in between any rails. Choose one that has a childproof lock that’s too high for a kid to reach.
Are your stairs open behind the treads? If so, it should not be more than a four-inch opening. You may want to add kickboards to improve the safety of stairs with wide-open backs.
Openings Between Boards
Over time deck boards swell and shrink because of moisture, heat and cold. This affects the gaps between the boards, which may have been very close together when the deck was first built. During the months of November through February you’re likely to see more shrinkage. On average October is one of the rainiest months in Central Texas, but starting in November the average rainfall drops and the moisture starts getting sucked out of the boards.
If the gaps are more than a ¼ inch apart they are getting to be a safety hazard. Little feet and hands can slip through and get stuck, and adults could catch a toe or heel. If your boards have shrunk and the gaps are now wide, lay down rugs in the higher traffic areas.
These are just three areas where your deck could pose a safety hazard to your family and guests, particularly the youngest ones. Explore the rest of our blog to learn more safety tips for your outdoor living space.
Original Source: http://timbertownaustin.com/home-improvement/tips-for-ensuring-your-deck-is-safe-for-the-whole-family-this-fall