|19 December 2018
Wattle Range Council’s Development Team is urging home owners not to be complacent about familiar home surroundings this summer and to have safety checks carried out on structures in outdoor entertaining areas. Safety checks are especially important for older homes but applies to all homes no matter when they were built.
“As people take to the outdoors this festive season, our balconies, patios, swimming pools and other entertaining areas are getting a lot of use,” Council’s Director Development Services, Steve Chapple explains. “These areas might have had limited use since the end of last summer and could have developed structural problems over the winter, posing an unseen risk to homeowners, family and friends.”
Some examples of areas in need of an annual safety check include:
Shade sails – There is a significant load placed on shade sails in wet or windy weather and once a year the structure to which they are attached should be checked to ensure it remains sound.
Balconies, decks and balustrading - Structural supports sometimes show obvious signs of decay and a simple visual check by the home owner should be done regularly and building expertise sought if something doesn’t look right. To be certain, decks and balconies should be checked by a professional at regular intervals. Some areas have a high salt spray risk so steel components could deteriorate more quickly. Some areas have higher rainfall and there are also issues where leaf litter can cause deterioration if not cleaned up regularly.
Masonry including pillars, columns and brick walls – it is recommended home owners attach items to masonry only where there is adequate reinforcement of the masonry to take the additional load. How do you know? Unreinforced masonry pillars and walls should never be used to carry loads that push or pull sideways on the masonry. These structures are generally designed only to resist loads applied in the vertical direction, namely downwards. If you can put your arms around a masonry pillar and your hands touch on the other side, it is probably not reinforced. If it is no longer than a single brick in any direction, it is probably not reinforced. If in doubt, don’t risk it. Get professional advice before attaching or hanging anything from masonry.
Swimming pool fences and gates - The ground around a pool fence can shift during the off season so a gate might not properly latch or gaps around safety fencing might open up to allow a toddler to access a pool area. Older fencing should be checked to ensure it is still structurally sound as well as the correct functioning of gate latches. Also, trees and other garden features or furniture might have moved or grown so that they provide an access point for toddlers into the pool area.
“The key message is, ‘If in doubt, seek expert advice’, let’s make this festive season a safe one” Mr Chapple said.
For further information please contact:
Steve Chapple, Director Development Services
Telephone: (08) 8733 0900