Decks; they come in all sizes, shapes and age. They’re an extension of our living space as the weather warms and we spend more time outdoors. They can also be an accident waiting to happen.

A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that close to 50,000 people are injured each year from falls off decks, porches and stairs; about 15 percent of those were from a structural failure or collapse.

Summer is when most deck collapses are reported. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors says of the more than 45 million existing decks in North America, only 40 percent are absolutely safe.

Most failures take place while the decks were occupied and approximately 90 percent were a result of separation of the house and the deck ledger board. While age can be a factor, deck collapse can take place on any deck that was not properly installed.

Here are five deck safety and inspection tips  from the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) that can keep the summer BBQ from becoming a trip to the hospital:

  1. Search for split or decaying wood including support beams and joists below
  2. Test railings and banisters to make sure they are firmly attached
  3. Check fasteners to make sure they have not come loose or corroded
  4. Step carefully looking for loose boards or spongy areas
  5. Clean up debris like leaves branches and other things that can cause slipping and mildew

NADRA also urges homeowners to test deck stairs, make sure grills and fire pits are on a non-flammable pad and away from walls and overhangs, and to consider proper lighting for nighttime use.

Michael Beaudry, executive vice president of the NADRA wants people to know about the importance of annually inspecting their decks. “Outdoor structures like decks are exposed to sun, rain, snow and extreme temperature changes over the years. The need to maintain and inspect them is critical for keeping decks strong and safe.”

You can find an extensive point-by-point deck inspection check list from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors at


Another piece of protection is to inspect your home or renters insurance. Now’s a great time to review your policy and make sure you have the proper liability coverage if someone gets hurt at your home. Call a California Casualty advisor today at 1.800.800.9410 or by visiting

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