12 October 2016

Warning

Twelve years ago we had wooden decking installed at the back of our house. We are still very happy with it. It's like the house has an extra room - but outdoors.

The trouble with decking in northern England is it needs cleaning a couple of times a year. If you don't clean it, it can become slippery in damp conditions - as a layer of lethal algae begins to form on the surface of the wood.

Ten years ago at this very time of year, I walked over our decking to right a chair that had been overturned by the wind. Standing still but bending down, my feet went from under me and in the flash of an eye I was lying on my back - as if I had been thrown to the floor by an invisible wrestler. I lay there chuckling, glad the moment had not been caught on camera. I was totally uninjured.

From that day forward, I have been pretty good about cleaning the decking and when I walk on it I will often test its slipperiness. Being a somewhat cautious kind of fellow, my shoes are all rubber-soled. However, on Monday evening this week I had another fall on the decking.

I stepped on to it to attend to our deep fat fryer - that I often place outside to avoid related kitchen smells. Then all of a sudden - wham, bang thank you man - I was sprawled on the decking once more. This time the fall was at the edge of the decking and as I fell my right elbow was slammed into the adjacent stone path.

For a moment, I thought I might have broken my arm or dislocated my elbow. Such injuries could easily happen on slippery decking. But as I lay there for a moment, no doubt looking like "a complete twat" - as some of my fellow Yorkshiremen might have remarked, I realised that I had once again escaped significant injury. 

I shall be out on that decking in the next few days in my wellies with a stiff brush, a bucket of Jeyes fluid and a power hose - to remove that layer of algae and prepare for wintertime. If you have got any wooden decking you might want to think about doing the same. If you visit a house or business that has wooden decking, please take care.

30 comments:

  1. Thank goodness you weren't holding a fat fryer full of hot oil at the time you fell! (Apparently...?)

    I wonder if there's a non-slip surface you could have installed on the decking to make it less hazardous. Seems like there might be some kind of spray-on texture you could get, like those daisies we all used to put in the bottom of our bathtubs. (Maybe not daisy shaped, though, if that's not your style. :) )

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    1. No I am not a sticky daisy kind of fellow Steve - though I guess sticky daisies are very popular in stylish west London. I have investigated textures and sprays but they are either unsightly or ineffective. There's no substitute for a good scrubbing.

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  2. That sounds very dangerous Mr Pudding. We don't bounce so well as we get older. Take care. Good thing you weren't holding a glass of wine, it might have spilled.

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    1. You are right Sue. Kids fall over all the time with no ill-effects but a fall in your sixties can be life changing.

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  3. Ouch! I really felt that. Some years ago, I fell on my elbow and the knobbly bit at the end came right off (.inside the skin, mercifully) and had to be wired back on. So I, literally,felt your pain!

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    1. One's knobbly bits perform much better when they are unwired. I flinched as I imagined your injury.

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  4. Don't get me started on decking! We had some installed not long after we moved into this house and thought it was wonderful, not realising just how much work goes in to keep it wonderful. Not just cleaning, but treating twice a year. Never again!

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    1. Get Mrs Parrot to do it. A way of demonstrating your belief in women's equality.

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  5. Well, you've escaped twice now but you may not be lucky the third time. In fact you may still end up with an injury on your elbow . You haven't got a big lump there have you ? We have a great outside room too and it gets lots of use both in Summer and Winter but no slippery problems here - not enough moisture 😀 ! We have tiles which have a special non-skid surface in case they get wet -rain can, and does, blow in at times.
    I've often noticed that many homes in the UK have a lot of gravel/stone in their yards. I gather that is a method of coping with lots of rain and drainage . Is that right ?

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    1. Interestingly, Brisbane receives more rain in a year than Sheffield - 824mm compared with Brisbane's 1,008mm. Gravel is indeed a sensible way of helping rain to soak away - rather than just running off. By the way, three days after the fall my elbow feels fine but you are wise to warn me of a third fall. Thank you.

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  6. Wow, Mr. Pudding. You have just got to be more careful. Good thing you didn't break anything. Better yet, good thing you didn't pull that deep fryer over on you! So sorry! Hope your bumps and bruises heal quickly! Don't they have some surface you could apply or install Trex so this would not happen? Be careful, please!

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    1. Thank you for your concern. I am your English brother. Brother Pudding. A couple of hours of cleaning and the decking will be safe again. In England, "Trex" is lard (pig fat). If I smear that on the decking I will be sure to fall again.

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  7. Oh dear! What a relief to know you weren't seriously injured (although I much prefered imagining you chuckling after your impromptu stunt the first time).
    Elbows are one of the most complicated parts of the human body. Nearly 20 years ago, my Mum fell during a walk in the mountains (no climbing, just easy walking on a proper path) and managed to smash her left elbow into tiny bits and pieces. The French surgeon (this happened in the Pyrenees) did a brilliant job by wiring and nailing the jigsaw puzzle back together, but the wires will remain forever, and she has never regained 100 % of range of motion in spite of painful and long physio therapy.
    I hope the thorough scrubbing you're going to give the decking will prevent further accidents - we need you going for walks and blogging about them!

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    1. I guess I dodged a bullet and realise I must be ahead of the game in future. Did you like the German warning sign at the top of the post? i included it with you in mind. By the way, I have not completed any really long walks in the past month due to a knee injury but at last it is starting to feel much better so soon I will be out plodding properly once more.

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    2. Yes, I did notice the German warning sign and am wondering how you'd pronounce it :-)

      Sorry to hear of your knee injury, I must have missed that. Hopefully, you'll be out and about soon again!

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    3. I would pronounce the warning very badly and you would laugh! I never mentioned my knee injury until now.

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  8. Luckily your deep fat fryer was not involved - that would have been the last straw. As to decking, it is too chilly up here I think to make it worth its while; in any case I would always be scared of going flying - I can fall at the drop of a hat.

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    1. The lie of the land behind our house meant that decking was a great option. I guess that in comparison with Bellerby, Sheffield is like The Costa del Sol.

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  9. Oh YP, sorry to hear you've had a tumble. Do take care, you're not as young as you used to be !
    We've considered decking - it looks good and is a change from slabs or tiles - but have always been put off by the work involved to keep it in pristine condition.
    Outdoors we have large areas of non-slip ceramic tiles, which can be slippery if there's too much water on the surface. They still need cleaning, and the rough surface makes them attract dirt. We've found that gravel, with an underlay of a special porous woven plastic, is the easiest option for a fairly maintenance free surface.

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    1. I am still happy we had decking installed. I just need to get ahead of the game with cleaning it. I know that I have been lucky with my two falls and as I get older a third fall could easily be debilitating.

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  10. That's twice..mthings come/happen in three so the "know-everything-they" say.

    I'd definitely be ignoring the desire for "attractiveness" and would be going for safety by applying or fitting some kind of non-slip surface. I value my own safety...unbroken bones - far more than aesthetics

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    1. You can have safety and aesthetic pleasure if you keep your decking clean. I guess the fall was my own fault for not keeping on top of the deck cleaning.

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  11. I'm glad you're okay. I always say my ass is on the ground before my brain knows I'm falling. After an injury from fall it's hard to get your confidence back when you are walking on decking.

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    1. I guess The Micro Manager slams you on the floor quite often when she is displeased with your behaviour.

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  12. Yikes! I could see how that could happen. Is there something you could place down on the boards that would give a little traction in spots?

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    1. Possibly Stephanie but I have a better solution. From now on whenever I encounter decking I shall crawl across it.

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  13. For one awful moment I thought you would have to fall back on the back-up posts which you claim to have in case of an unexpected demise.

    I absolutely hate walking on slippery underfoot surfaces, icy footpaths are one of the worst.

    Alphie

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    1. I also thought the Back-Up Posts were about to be released. Titles include Hell, Decomposition, Worms and Undertakers. I am also very wary of icy footpaths. One fall can change your life forever.

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  14. Well I will join everyone in being grateful that you escaped significant injury. My son is about to install a football field's worth of decking but I think he may be using the stuff which we had at The House in New Zealand which was recycled plastic with a non-slip surface and not prone to algae growth. I'm hoping so anyway.

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  15. Ooh dear, Mr. Pudding, I'm happy to read you were not injured, and although you already know it's the algae that is causing the problem, scrubbing it away, becomes quite the chore, and has to be continued regularly.
    There are several products on the US market that you can apply to your wood deck, that eliminates this very problem, but not sure if they are available in the UK. One in particular is this : http://www.behr.com/consumer/products/wood-stains-finishes-cleaners-and-strippers/behr-premium-deckover, maybe take a gander, it would definitely save your next tumble.
    ~Jo

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