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There are roughly 40 million wood decks in use across the U.S., most of them between 10 and 15 years old, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). While decks do not collapse every day, when they do, people can be injured or killed. You can help protect visitors to your home or business by keeping deck safety in mind. Permits and licenses As with any building, renovation or addition, be sure the deck has the required planning and building department approvals, including a building permit. Check with your local building department if you don’t have copies of these documents. Engage only licensed tradespeople, and check their license with your state before signing a contract or paying anyone. Furthermore, ensure that they have general liability insurance and adequate coverage limits. Ask for certificate of insurance to verify that the contractor is insured. Check your deck regularly for wear and tear or more serious deterioration. Have an inspection done by a professional if you are unsure what to look for or if you think there are any problems. Before you entertain on a deck, think about the reasonable number of people that the structure can support. The deck may not have been designed to accommodate large groups of people and lively activities, such as dancing, which can impose a significant additional load. Maintenance checks All the components that make up our homes and other buildings – including decks – require routine, regular maintenance to keep them in good repair. In promoting May as Deck Safety Month, NADRA urges consumers to take time to Check Your Deck® for safety. NADRA offers a 10-point Deck Safety Checklist you can download to check your deck for conditions that could cause injuries from falls, fires, collapses, electrical shock and downed limbs from nearby trees. There is also a more technical Deck Evaluation Checklist to assist builders and inspectors. As summer entertaining season heats up, be sure to Check Your Deck for safety.
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