Five Safety Tips to Help Prevent Deck Collapses

June 21, 2010
OPA 124/10

News Highlights

  • Five safety tips can help prevent a deck collapse.
  • Tips and information can be found online.
  • A county permit and inspections are required anytime homeowners make structural repairs or changes to their decks.

More Information 

Image of house with collapsed deck.
Deck Safety

Because of the deck collapse this past weekend, Fairfax County’s top building official asks residents to check the safety of their decks before using them by following five safety tips.

Decks don’t last forever, so it’s important to check your deck regularly, especially if it’s older,” said Ray Pylant, Fairfax County's building official. “Decks usually fall down because they aren’t attached to your home properly. Another common cause for injuries is loose guardrails or posts. But you can avoid injuries and accidents with regular inspections and maintenance.”

Follow these five safety tips:

  1. Check support posts and beams for rot, splitting or abnormal movement.
  2. Closely check the attachment points between the deck and the house.
  3. Check all fasteners, bolts, joist hangers and other hardware for rust or corrosion.
  4. Check all guards and rails to be sure they are sturdy and secured.
  5. Use grills, heaters and outdoor fire pits with care.

Warning signs that a deck may be unsafe include: loose or wobbly railings or support beams, missing or loose screws that connect a deck to the house, corrosion, rot and cracks. Homeowners must get a county permit and inspections anytime they make structural repairs or changes to their deck.

Residents can get more tips and information online, or call Fairfax County’s Land Development Services at 703-222-0114, TTY 711.

While there are no government statistics, people are injured or killed every year by collapsing decks. Almost 2,000 people have been hurt and 30 have been killed by deck collapses between 2000 and 2006, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association.

For media inquiries, contact the Office of Public Affairs at 703-324-3189, TTY 711.


Get News. Get Information. Get Fairfax County.Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director, Office of Public Affairs
703-324-3189, TTY 711, Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)
To request this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-3187, TTY 711

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