GLOUCESTER — Chief Eric Smith and Building Commissioner Bill Sanborn would like to remind residents to make sure their decks are structurally sound and their grilling stations adhere to safety protocols this summer.
Decks that are not properly built or maintained can collapse and cause significant injuries, as well as property damage.
“We’re encouraging residents to take a few minutes as summertime approaches to examine their decks and porches,” Sanborn said. “A deck in need of repair poses a significant danger to you and your loved ones, and it’s imperative that these structures are looked after.”
Sanborn has several tips for residents looking to perform a deck safety check:
- Stand several yards away from your deck to view whether it appears to be uneven, leans away from the building or dips toward one corner.
- Check the railings and make sure they are sturdy.
- Check for loose boards on the deck and make sure that all balusters are properly secured.
- Look for any rotten wood, rusting fasteners, wood joist separating from band joist or broken joists. Check that the blots that hold the deck to the house are tight and secure.
- Do not overload your deck with furniture, people, sport equipment, etc.
- If you do not feel comfortable performing the inspection or find that your deck needs repair, contact a construction specialist to answer your questions and make the necessary repairs.
The North American Deck and Railing Association also offers a checklist for deck safety checks.
Chief Smith would also like to remind residents to make sure they’re practicing safe grilling habits this year.
“A lot of people love grilling in the warmer weather, but failure to be vigilant while using your grill or storing it improperly is tremendously dangerous,” Chief Smith said. “Grills can be a serious fire hazard, and we’re asking residents to be responsible.”
The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services has several tips for grilling safely in the coming weeks and months:
- Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
- Place grills away from the house, deck railings and out from under eaves of overhanging branches.
- Grills should only be used on first floor porches, decks, or patios if there is an outdoor stairway to the ground, or the porch is at ground level.
- Keep children and pets at least 3 feet away from the grilling area. Children should never play near grills or propane cylinders.
Gas Grill Safety
- Make sure the lid of a gas grill is open when you light it. Propane can build up inside and when ignited, the lid may blow off.
- Check that all connections are tight before turning on the gas.
- Clean the grease trap every time you grill.
- Check the propane tank hose for potential leaks by applying a light soap and water solution to the hose using a brush or spray bottle. See if any bubbles appear around the hose. If no bubbles appear, the grill is safe to use.
- If you smell gas while cooking, turn the grill off and move away from it. Call 911 from a safe location. Do not move the grill.
- Store propane cylinders upright in an outdoor, shaded area. Cylinders should not be used, stored or transported where they can be exposed to high temperatures.
Charcoal Grill Safety
- Use only charcoal starter fluid. Never used gasoline or kerosene to start a fire in a grill and never add lighter fluid to burning briquettes or hot coals.
- Always use charcoal grills in a well-ventilated area. Charcoal briquettes emit carbon monoxide, which can be deadly.
- Properly dispose of grill ashes. Allow the coals to burn out completely and then cool for 48 hours before disposal. If you must dispose of ashes before they are completely cooled, thoroughly soak them in water before putting them in a metal container.