May is Deck Safety Month, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association. Older decks that haven’t been well-maintained can easily become unsafe, especially for children and pets. Before your deck starts to see heavy use this summer, take precautions to make sure it is safe. Here are some tips to make your deck safer.
Wooden Deck Maintenance to Make Your Deck Safer
One of the best ways to keep your deck safe is to perform yearly deck maintenance duties. These include washing, sanding, staining, and sealing the wooden materials of the deck. Spring is the best time of year to complete your deck maintenance tasks, because winter weather may have worn down the deck. People use their deck more during warmer months, so take care of your deck before summer.
Fix Loose Railings
While you are maintaining your deck, inspect all the railings and balusters. Make your deck safer by fixing any loose, missing, and unstable parts. The balusters or spindles should be no more than 3 inches apart, and if they are, add more or attach a covering over them.
Add a Locking Gate
If you have children and pets, it is important to have a locking gate at the top of the steps to your deck. Without one, a child could easily fall down the stairs or a pet could wander away. A gate with a simple combination lock is best so that you don’t need to worry about misplacing the key.
Make Your Deck Safer by Providing Shade
The surface of the deck can get scorching hot when the sun is beating down on it all day. It can get so hot that it can burn paws and bare feet. Your deck is safer for kids and pets when it is at least partially shaded. Provide shade with an awning, a large potted tree, or a shade sail.
Many homeowners keep the grill on the deck for backyard cookouts. While this is a great way to spend an afternoon, grills do have safety hazards. Make your deck safer by keeping the grill away from the side of the house and anything overhead. Keep the grill on top of a fireproof mat. Practice grill safety when you cook outside by making sure propane hoses aren’t leaking, taking precautions when lighting charcoal, and keeping kids and pets away from the grill while it is lit.
Plants on the Deck
It is common to keep potted plants on a deck. If you have children and pets, make sure that the plants you have are non-toxic. Toddlers and pets may eat the potted plants when no one is looking, so prevent an emergency by only growing safe plants.
You’ll be able to enjoy your deck more when you have taken the above steps to make it safe.