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NADRA'S Deck Safety Program
An effort to save lives, and prevent injuries

Is Your Deck Safe?
May is Deck Safety Month

Southern Pine Deck

April 2008 (ARA) - As spring approaches, thoughts turn to sprucing up the yard, the garden, and spending more time outdoors. Part of gearing up for this time of year is making sure your deck is safe and well-maintained.

A deck can be the perfect place to spend time enjoying the weather with friends and family. A well-built and maintained deck offers a safe haven for outdoor living. However, an improperly built or deteriorated structure can mean disaster. A deck collapse can cause unnecessary, and often serious injuries, and even death. In an effort to save lives and prevent injuries, the North American Deck and Railing Association, Inc. (NADRA) declared May as Deck Safety Month in 2006. Now in its third year, the Deck Safety Month program helps increase public awareness of the necessity for regular inspection and maintenance of existing decks, and proper installation of new decks.

The number of deck failures and resulting injuries has been increasing at an alarming rate. Between 2000 and 2006, there have been at least 30 deaths reported as a direct result of deck collapses and more than 75 percent of people on a deck when it collapses are injured or killed, illuminating just how important it is for homeowners to check their deck. There are 40 million decks in the U.S. that are over 20 years old. At a conservative 1 percent, that means 40,000 decks are currently in need of repair or replacement. Taking that estimate to 10 percent brings the total number of unsafe decks to 4 million.

Mike Beaudry, executive vice president for NADRA states, "Our number one priority to the public is to ensure that the decks they and their families enjoy are safe. NADRA takes this responsibility seriously and has created campaigns and educational programs for the builders, lumberyards, and manufacturers to improve proper installation practices along with checklists and safety awareness information for consumers to follow."

Reasons for a deck collapsing can range from age of the deck, poor maintenance and exceeding load capacity to improper building methods. Deck failures can be avoided. It's a matter of making the consumer aware of the necessity of choosing a professional deck contractor, regular maintenance and inspection, and knowing the limits of the deck structure.

Its time to Check Your Deck! Homeowners should visit NADRA's website at www.NADRA.org for the Check Your Deck - 10-Point safety checklist. "May is a great time to make your deck-check," Beaudry says. "In parts of the country where there's a lot of snow and ice, your deck could have developed a trouble spot over the winter." Beaudry adds, "If you've never had your deck professionally inspected, make that appointment. A professional inspection will examine every inch of your deck, educate you on your deck's capacity limits, identify any problem areas, and give you a map of what to keep your eye on in the future. If your deck is older, this might include a regular deck inspection schedule."

If you find your deck is not safe to enjoy, NADRA advises taking immediate action to have it repaired or rebuilt as necessary and recommends the following tips to choose a deck builder.

* Ask friends and family members for referrals and contact state and local licensing authorities and trade associations such as NADRA.

* Meet with and carefully evaluate all potential deck builders. Ask to see a portfolio and some samples of the decking and railing materials they prefer to use. Good builders take pride in their work and will be enthusiastic about the possibility of creating a relationship.

* Pay attention to the deck builder's experience, licensing, insurance coverage and professional references.

A key element of enjoying your deck for years to come is making sure it is safe and code compliant. When hiring a deck builder, there is more to consider than just price. In addition to the tips above, NADRA recommends homeowners contact their city or county building department to speak with an inspector with knowledge in deck construction.

For more information on Deck Safety Month, the Check Your Deck program and finding a reputable deck builder, visit www.nadra.org.

NADRA, Deck Safety Month, and Check Your Deck are registered trademarks of North American Deck and Railing Association. All rights reserved.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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