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Deck collapses are a very real danger. Out of more than 40 million decks in the U.S., approximately half are considered to be unsafe. Since 1999, there have been thousands of injuries and even deaths due to unsafe decks. This deck safety video by Simpson Strong Tie outlines the five major causes of deck collapses so that you can ensure that you keep you and your family safe from injury and even death: #1 Missing Connections The deck should not be fastened only with nails. Check to ensure that the deck is fastened with a combination of metal fasteners. #2. Loose Connections Railings and stairways should not be loose, and the deck should not be coming away from the house. #3. Corrosion There should be no signs of red rust or corrosion – replace them if they show this type of wear. Metal parts should be designed for outdoor use, as this can lead to the collapse of a deck. #4. Rotted wood Any soft wood that has rotten must be replaced, as weight from a person can cause rotted wood, and hence the deck, to collapse. #5. Cracks in the wood Cracks in wood are common, but large, excessive cracks are dangerous and this wood must be replaced. Look for the ledger connection, possibly the most important part of the deck. The ledger connection is that piece of wood that attaches the entire deck to the house. That connection cannot be made with nails and instead has to be made with ledger screws or Simpson strong-tie screws. The wood joist should always be attached with metal joist hangers to the ledger and at the other end, when the wood joist run over the beam, they should be secured with hurricane ties or clips. The top of the wood post has to be secured to the beam with the metal post cap and at the bottom with the metal post base. It’s critical that that post be raised above the ground to prevent against moisture and decay, and that can be achieved by using a metal post base with a one-inch stand up. And don’t forget the railing posts. It’s very important that that be secured to the deck structure with metal hardware and bolts. The railing pickets should be spaced four inches apart to ensure that a child can’t fall through. If you suspect your deck has any of the five warning signs, or is unsafe in any area, call in a professional. A home inspector or a deck contractor can work with you to identify and correct those problems. Remember deck collapses are preventable. An annual inspection of your deck will help keep you and your family safe.