Having a party? Don't forget to check porches for safety

  • A view of a repaired back porch of a building located at 2439 N. Burling St. in Chicago.
A view of a repaired back porch of a building located at 2439 N. Burling St.… (Chicago Tribune )
May 22, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

Chicagoans planning to use their porch this summer should check out the structure first, city officials advised on Wednesday.

The city issued porch safety tips on Wednesday, just before the Memorial Day weekend and the 10th anniversary next month of the fatal Lincoln Park porch collapse that killed 13 people and injured dozens more.

"Like any part of a building that is exposed to the varied weather conditions experienced in Chicago, porches should be checked on an annual basis for any wear and tear," Buildings Commissioner Michael Merchant said in a news release.

Residents should check for split or rotting wood, evidence of water damage; loose, missing or rusting hardware or bolts; loose or missing anchors where the porch attaches to the building; missing, damaged or loose support beams and planking; excessive movement of the structure when walked on; and wobbly handrails or guardrails.

If there are problems, the city said, stop using the porch, report the concerns to the building owner or property manager, and contact 311 to report potentially dangerous or deteriorated porches and request an inspection.

The number of porch complaints has gone down over the past few years. For example, there were 1,282 complaints about porches made to 311 in 2012 compared to 2,322 in 2006, according to the city. So far this year, there were more than 200 complaints.

Meanwhile, the number of permits issued for new, repaired or replaced porches has fluctuated from 2,066 in 2006 to 3,468 in 2008 and back down to 2,028 in 2012. The number of issued permits continuing to stay above 2,000 each year indicated to the city that porches are being maintained, the release said.

Residents were also reminded to limit the number of people out on porches.

"Residents should check porches for issues before entertaining guests, and hosts should make sure that guests do not gather on porches and stair structures," Merchant said in the release.

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