Emerald Isle deck collapse raises safety concerns locally

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Emerald Isle officials say sand, salt and moisture over three decades are likely to blame for a deck collapse over the weekend.

Twenty-four people from ages 5 to 94 were injured while a vacationing family was gathered for a photo on the deck of a beach house. Two of the family members are still in critical condition.

Contractors with K-Built Construction and Pools in Burlington tell FOX8 that homeowners here in the Piedmont should also check their decks and porches for signs of decay.

“Back in the day, people built with minimal lumber,” explained Douglas Blouin, project manager with K-Built. “That’s where a lot of the problems are coming from these older decks. Of course, the fasteners have been there for a while so they’re corroding.”

City of Greensboro Chief Building Inspector Don Sheffield reminds homeowners that state law requires anyone to obtain a permit and schedule a city safety inspection when building a new deck.

After that inspection is passed, the law does not require or allow additional inspections by city officials. It’s up to the homeowner to check for decayed wood or rusty nails or fasteners. Blouin advises hiring a professional if you have any questions about the sturdiness and safety of your deck.

Sheffield added, “A deck is not made for a concentrated load. It’s meant to have people on it but scattered out. If you put people in one area, you’ve got an awful lot of weight that deck more than likely was not built for.”

The North American Deck and Railing Association provides additional information about suggested annual deck inspections, including a free checklist that you can view by clicking here.

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