The upcoming Memorial Day holiday signals the beginning of outdoor fun, especially in the backyard. The International Code Council’s Building Safety Month 2013 reminds everyone to take measures to avoid unsafe conditions in the backyard. The educational public safety campaign also recognizes the important work of code officials who keep the public safe by ensuring homes and other structures are built in compliance with construction safety codes.
Week three of Building Safety Month, May 20-26, focuses on backyard safety including decks and balconies, grills, and swimming pools and spas. Check with your local building or fire department to determine what meets code in your neighborhood.
Decks and balconies can collapse as they age if they are not properly built. Building or repairing decks and balconies might require a building permit and inspection. Homeowners should make sure these structures are built properly and comply with local codes. Other safety hazards to look for on decks and balconies are:
Split or rotting wood
Wobbly handrails or guardrails
Loose, missing or rusting anchors, nails or screws
Missing, damaged or loose support beams and planks
Excessive movement, swaying or other unstable conditions when walked on
Overcrowding, don’t exceed the weight capacity required by code
Grilling on or near combustible areas can be a fire hazard. The most common hazards are open flames or heat that can start a fire on a deck or balcony, the roof or siding. When grilling, follow these safety tips:
Place the grill away from siding and railings; don’t grill under eaves or low branches
Never grill on top of anything that can catch on fire
Remove grease and fat buildup
Use proper starter fluid and store the container away from heat
Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks
It is unsafe to grill in garages or enclosed areas that can trap carbon monoxide
Building codes require a four-foot high fence or other barrier around a pool or spa with a water depth of 24 inches or more. This includes inflatable pools. Fence gates must be self-closing and self-latching.
Pool and spa safety tips include:
Remove chairs, tables or any objects that allow a child to climb and reach a gate latch or climb over the fence pool to gain access to a pool or spa
Make sure drain covers are not broken or in disrepair, and are anchored firmly over drain openings
Although pool water alarms might detect accidental or unauthorized entrance into the water, they are not a substitute for fences or other safety devices required by code.
Install either an automatic or manually operated, approved safety cover to completely block access to water in a pool or spa
To find out if your backyard is safe and friendly go to www.iccsafe.org/safety/Pages/Backyard.aspx.