The Ultimate Deck Safety Checklist for Pets and Children
With the warmer weather months approaching, families and pet owners are looking forward to enjoying their decks again. This can bring excitement and be a hazardous environment for kids and pets. To ensure everyone’s safety, deck owners should thoroughly check their structure before allowing anyone out.
This deck safety checklist will help you navigate the most critical checkpoints to ensure everyone remains safe.
1. Inspect the Deck
The first step is to inspect the deck itself. Inspect the surface, railings and posts, stairs, and steps to ensure there are no signs of damage. Look for broken boards, missing nails, rotting wood, unsteady railings, or loose handrails that could pose a safety hazard. Make necessary deck repairs and change out any wooden components for a more sturdy material.
Inspecting a deck is an important part of maintaining the safety and longevity of your outdoor living space. Here are some steps you can take to inspect your deck:
- Check for any signs of rot or decay: Look for soft or spongy areas in the wood. If you can easily penetrate the wood with a screwdriver or similar tool, it may be rotting.
- Look for cracks or splits: Check the boards for any cracks or splits that could cause a tripping hazard or weaken the deck’s structure.
- Check for loose or corroded fasteners: Look for any loose screws or nails that may need to be tightened or replaced. Also, check for rust or corrosion on any metal components.
- Inspect the ledger board: The ledger board is the part of the deck that attaches it to the house. Check for any signs of rot, decay, or water damage in this area.
- Check the railings: Make sure the railings are secure and not wobbly. Also, check for any signs of rot or decay in the railing posts.
- Look for signs of insect damage: Look for holes or tunnels in the wood that could indicate insect activity. If you see any signs of termites or other pests, you may need to call in a professional for treatment.
- Check the overall condition: Take a step back and look at the overall condition of the deck. Are there any areas that need to be repaired or replaced? Is the deck still in good condition overall?
By inspecting your deck regularly, you can identify any potential problems early on and take action to prevent more serious damage or safety issues.
2. Secure Perimeters
The next step is to secure any perimeters established for pets or children. If there is a fenced-in area, check that the fence is securely in place and correct any necessary repairs. If you’re using a gate, check if it is working correctly and if the latch is secure and cannot be easily opened by children. Also, don’t forget to check any wider openings that could allow pets to escape, such as between uneven boards or gaps in railings.
Securing the perimeter of a deck is an important safety measure to prevent accidents and injuries. Here are some steps you can take to secure the perimeter of your deck:
- Install sturdy railings: Make sure your deck has sturdy railings that are at least 36 inches high, to prevent falls. The railings should be secured to the deck posts with bolts or screws, not nails.
- Check for gaps between the deck and the house: Make sure there are no gaps between the deck and the house where someone could fall through. If there are gaps, install a ledger board or flashing to fill them in.
- Install safety gates: If you have young children or pets, consider installing safety gates to prevent them from accessing the deck area. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching to ensure they are always securely closed.
- Check for loose or rotted boards: Make sure there are no loose or rotted boards on the deck surface that could cause someone to trip or fall. Replace any damaged boards as soon as possible.
- Secure stairs and steps: If your deck has stairs or steps, make sure they are securely attached to the deck and have sturdy handrails. The steps should be uniform in height and depth to prevent tripping hazards.
- Use non-slip materials: Use non-slip materials on the deck surface and stairs to prevent slips and falls, especially when wet.
- Trim nearby trees and bushes: Trim any nearby trees or bushes that could obstruct the view of the deck, or that could fall onto the deck during a storm.
By taking these steps to secure the perimeter of your deck, you can enjoy your outdoor living space with peace of mind knowing that it is safe for your family and guests.
3. Check for Loose Accessories
Now that the deck is ready, it’s time to ensure all the decorations, furniture, and other accessories are securely and correctly placed. Ensure all items are stable and won’t fall or tip over when moving around. Double-check that everything is secure and there is no chance of anything becoming a hazard.
Regularly checking for loose accessories on your deck is important to maintain the safety and integrity of the structure. Here are some steps you can take to check for loose accessories on your deck:
- Walk around the deck and visually inspect all accessories: Look for any visible signs of damage or wear and tear. Check all accessories, including chairs, tables, planters, and any other items that are frequently moved or adjusted.
- Test for stability: Test each accessory for stability by gently pushing or pulling it. If it wobbles or moves, it may need to be tightened or adjusted.
- Check screws and bolts: Inspect all screws and bolts on the accessories. If any are loose, tighten them with a screwdriver or wrench. If any are missing, replace them immediately.
- Check for rust: If any metal accessories are showing signs of rust or corrosion, replace them to prevent them from breaking and causing injury.
- Check the deck railing: Check the deck railing to make sure it is securely attached and not wobbly. Tighten any screws or bolts that are loose.
- Inspect lighting fixtures: If you have lighting fixtures on your deck, check them to make sure they are securely attached and not wobbly. Replace any burned-out bulbs.
- Check the grill: If you have a grill on your deck, make sure it is stable and not wobbly. Check the propane tank to make sure it is securely fastened and not leaking.
By checking for loose accessories on your deck regularly, you can help prevent accidents and injuries, and keep your outdoor living space safe and enjoyable for you and your guests.
4. Dedicate a Play Area
If you have young children living at home or plan to let your pet roam the deck, consider providing a play area for each. Create a safe space for the kids to enjoy, away from the railings, with properly secured items. For pets, install slats in the fences to prevent them from squeezing between the bars and off the deck.
Dedicating a play area on your deck is a great way to create a safe and fun space for your children to play outdoors. Here are some steps you can take to dedicate a play area on your deck:
- Choose a location: Choose a section of your deck that is flat, level, and away from any potential hazards such as stairs or sharp edges.
- Set boundaries: Set boundaries around the play area to define the space and keep children safe. You can use furniture, planters, or outdoor rugs to create a clear boundary.
- Install safety features: Install safety features such as railings, gates, and netting to prevent falls and ensure that children stay within the play area.
- Provide comfortable seating: Provide comfortable seating for parents or caregivers to supervise and interact with children.
- Add fun and educational toys: Choose toys and activities that are safe, age-appropriate, and promote physical activity and learning. Examples include a sandbox, climbing structure, or water table.
- Incorporate shade: Consider adding a shade structure such as an umbrella or awning to protect children from the sun and keep them cool.
- Make sure the deck is clean and free of hazards: Sweep the deck regularly to remove any debris or potential hazards such as sharp objects or splinters.
By dedicating a play area on your deck, you can provide a safe and enjoyable space for your children to play outdoors, while also keeping an eye on them from the comfort of your own home.
5. Store Hazardous Materials
It’s a good idea to keep dangerous items such as gardening tools, charcoal, or other hazardous materials away from the deck by storing them in a shed or locked storage chest. This will help keep them out of reach and away from potential danger.
Storing hazardous materials on a deck can be dangerous if not done properly. Here are some steps you can take to safely store hazardous materials on your deck:
- Identify the hazardous materials: Identify all hazardous materials that you plan to store on the deck. This may include gasoline, propane, pesticides, and other flammable or toxic substances.
- Use appropriate containers: Store hazardous materials in approved containers that are specifically designed for the material. The container should be sealed and labeled with the name of the material and any necessary warnings or precautions.
- Store materials in a well-ventilated area: Store hazardous materials in a well-ventilated area to reduce the risk of fumes and vapors accumulating. Avoid storing materials in areas that are prone to high temperatures or direct sunlight.
- Keep materials away from ignition sources: Store hazardous materials away from any sources of ignition, such as a grill or open flame. Keep the materials at least 10 feet away from the house and any other structures.
- Secure the containers: Secure the containers to prevent them from tipping over or falling off the deck. You can use straps or bungee cords to secure the containers.
- Consider a storage cabinet: Consider purchasing a storage cabinet specifically designed for hazardous materials. The cabinet should be fire-resistant and should have a locking mechanism to prevent unauthorized access.
- Check for leaks and spills: Regularly inspect the containers for leaks or spills. If you notice any leaks or spills, clean them up immediately and dispose of the material properly.
By following these steps, you can safely store hazardous materials on your deck and reduce the risk of accidents or injuries.
6. Check Your Lighting
The last step is to make sure you have adequate lighting. Create several brightly-lit areas on the deck, and make sure all overhead lighting works as intended. Additionally, change any bulbs that are no longer functioning and check the outdoor lighting around the edges of the deck.
Proper lighting is important for any deck, as it enhances its functionality and safety. Here are some steps you can take to adequately light your deck:
- Plan your lighting design: Consider the layout of your deck and plan the placement of your lighting fixtures. Some areas to consider include stairways, entrances, and seating areas.
- Choose the right type of lighting: Choose the right type of lighting for each area of your deck. For example, soft lighting may be best for dining areas, while brighter lighting may be necessary for task areas such as cooking or grilling.
- Use multiple light sources: Use multiple light sources to create a layered effect and add depth to your deck. This can include overhead lighting, wall sconces, or lanterns.
- Install dimmer switches: Install dimmer switches to control the intensity of your lighting and create the perfect ambiance for any occasion.
- Consider energy-efficient options: Consider energy-efficient options such as LED lights, which are long-lasting and use less energy than traditional bulbs.
- Incorporate accent lighting: Incorporate accent lighting to highlight key features of your deck, such as a water feature, landscaping, or architectural elements.
- Ensure proper installation: Ensure that your lighting fixtures are properly installed and secured to prevent accidents or damage to your deck.
By following these steps, you can adequately light your deck and create a safe, functional, and inviting outdoor living space.
Keep Your Family Safe With a Well Designed Deck From Mountain View Sun Deck
Completing this ultimate deck safety checklist ensures that pets and children will be safe on your deck for the summer months. Extra effort and attention can pay dividends in preventing accidents and keeping everyone safe. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get started on your deck safety checklist now!
Mountain View Sun Decks is your go-to source for all your custom deck services in Calgary. From design to installation, we have the experience and knowledge to create the perfect outdoor living space for you and your family. Request a free quote today!