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A deck is the perfect place to gather for meals or cookouts, to enjoy the outdoors with your children and pets, or to take in a quiet sunset. To make your deck safe, look for these potential safety hazards. Below are a few things to check when planning to spend time outdoors on your deck.

Check Railings to Make Your Deck Safe

Code generally requires that any deck over 30” off the ground is built with a railing. However, even if your city or county doesn’t require a railing, it’s still best to include one. Make sure there aren’t any gaps that are more than three or four inches wide. Young children may work their way into these gaps and get stuck between them or fall off the deck.

Keep Your Deck Safe with a Gate

Safety dictates that a deck with stairs needs a gate. Install a gate with a child-proof latch. This is a simple precaution to give you peace of mind that the deck is secure. You’ll feel better about allowing children and pets to play freely in the area.

Be Wary of Water

Anything containing water on your deck is a hazard for pets and children, including buckets, water features, and fountains. Two inches of water is enough for a child to drown. If your deck features a fountain, make a point to always supervise children when they are outdoors.

Provide Shade to Make Your Deck Safe

Sun may be one of the main reasons you want to be out on your deck. However, if children or pets will be using the space, consider installing an awning to shield your deck from sunlight. Without sufficient shade, the sun will heat the deck’s surface to temperatures that are unsafe for bare feet and paws. Plant a tree, use a patio umbrella, or install an awning to create shade over one area of the deck.

Be Careful with Plants

If you enjoy container gardening, be sure to select non-toxic plants for your deck. Kids and pets sometimes ingest plants and many are dangerous. Do some research online when choosing plants to include on the deck.

Look for Splinters

Be mindful of your deck’s finish. Wooden decks can become rough and splintered, which is dangerous for pet paws and barefoot traffic. Inspect your deck’s surface annually, sand rough spots, and reapply finish to keep everything smooth and safe.

Avoid Easy Deck Access

Make sure your children can’t access the deck on their own. Keep the door to the deck locked at all times so accidents can’t happen. Install the lock high enough so growing kids cannot reach it.

M&T Inspection Services provides home inspection services to Indianapolis. Contact us to schedule an appointment.