Check your deck: Deck safety tips and advice

The scene of the deck collapse Friday night

There is no official word on why a Pawleys Island deck collapsed Friday night, sending 13 people to the hospital.

Robert Cox, a Georgetown County building official, says the deck collapsed due to structural failure, but what caused that failure is still under investigation.

Cox added it could be months before an official cause on the collapse is released.

Cox said that waterlogging isn't usually the reason for a deck failure.

"Most of the time deck failure comes from the attachment, the nailing, the amount of load and also the age of the deck," he said

A statement from the Sea View Inn's Facebook page said the deck that collapsed "was not in disrepair or in a compromised state. It was waterlogged from the recent deluge of rain and simply could not hold the weight."

Cox said some commercial codes require that a deck post a maximum occupancy, but it isn't required everywhere.

He said most decks are designed to hold 50 or 60 pounds per square foot and "once that is exceeded then there's a possibility for failure."

"O and O," Cox said. "Old and overloaded is what causes decks to collapse."

It is not clear exactly how many people were on the deck when it collapsed.

But what is clear is how Cox says accidents like this can be prevented: By checking your deck at least once a year.

Cox said that decks, especially those in coastal areas, start to wear out and decay over time when the weather causes fasteners and nails to rust.

"One of the scariest things when it comes to deck safety is the unseen, things like this nail, completely unseen to the eye and completely decayed," Cox said while looking at an area deck.

An engineer can be hired to come out and inspect commercial and private decks to determine how they were built, the structure and the amount of load they can sustain, as well as inspect for any signs of decay, Cox said.

He said "having your decks inspected on an annual basis, with guests coming over, vacationers, could save lives."