Deck and Pool Tips for a Safe Summer; Building Safety Month: Week 3

Contact: Melanie Brown 517-373-9280
Agency: Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

May 21, 2014 - Enjoy your backyard deck and swimming pool all summer long by ensuring they are safe, urges the Bureau of Construction Codes in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

“Decks and pools like any other part of your home require regular maintenance and inspection,” said Bureau of Construction Codes Director Irvin J. Poke. “Contact your local building department if you have questions about requirements for building a deck or if you’re thinking about putting in a swimming pool. They will tell you what permits are needed and what requirements must be followed.”

According to Poke, a deck will last a lifetime if properly constructed and maintained. Weight and other forces affect the safety of decks and when a deck collapses people can get seriously hurt. Like a house, a deck must be designed to support the weight of people and objects placed on it as well and be able to withstand wind and snow.

To ensure construction of your new or existing deck is structurally safe and sound, look for several warning signs that may be cause for concern. Here are few important safety tips:

  • Check for loose boards or protruding nails.
  • Repair or replace wobbly railings, loose stairs and ledgers that appear to be pulling away from the house.
  • Repair or rebuild your deck if you see missing or loose connections, rust and other signs of corrosion on metal connectors, screws, nails, and fasteners, wood rot, or cracks, which weaken the structure of your deck.
  • Use galvanized steel connectors with screws and nails recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Use wood that is pressure treated or naturally durable.
  • Depending on the type of deck boards used, keep your deck sealed to protect against water and sun damage.
  • Construct your deck with a continuous load path. This path transfers the load or weight of the deck through its frame and into the ground/footings and adjacent support structure, usually your home. If your deck is built with a continuous load path, it will be better equipped to resist the forces that can weaken your deck.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 250 children under age 5 drown in swimming pools and more than 2,700 children seek medical treatment for pool-related accidents – mostly in backyard pools. By properly following building safety codes, many water-related deaths and injuries in and around pools can be avoided. Here a few important safety reminders about pools:

  • Install a fence or other barrier at least four feet high around in- and above-ground pools, including inflatable pools holding more than 24 inches of water.
  • Make sure all access gates are self-closing and self-latching.
  • Have qualified professionals install, maintain and inspect all electrical devices in and around the pool.
  • Protect electrical devices by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
  • Install a pool alarm that can alert if someone enters the pool accidentally or unauthorized.
  • Secure or remove steps and ladders for above-ground pools when not in use.
  • All pool and hot tub drains (suction outlets) must have a cover or grate that meets industry standards for suction fittings marked to indicate compliance with ANSI/ASME A112.19.8 2007.
  • Check to see that these covers fit properly, are anchored firmly over the drain opening, and are not broken or in disrepair.
  • Use a cover for the pool when it’s not in use; never allow anyone to stand or play on it.

LARA’s Bureau of Construction Codes works to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public’s health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards. For more information, go to the Bureau of Construction Codes website at

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