WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A deck collapse in North Carolina is making people think about how safe their decks are. It’s frightening to think about: the deck giving way beneath you. However, it is a real possibility.

“You don’t want it falling apart, you don’t want it falling through, you don’t want it ripping apart, so have it done the right way,” said Jocko Sharon, a homeowner in Westfield. He isn’t taking any chances. He hired professionals to build a new deck that would keep his family safe at summer parties. “We had cedar because it’s supposed to be resistant to mildew and rot, but after 20 years, it mildewed and it rotted,” Sharon laughed.

But often, the warning signs of a dangerous deck aren’t that noticeable. Springfield’s Code Enforcement Commissioner Steve Desilets told 22News they often find rusted nails after removing outer pieces of wood.

It’s also important to follow the maximum weight limit for the deck. In most parts of Western Massachusetts, that’s 60 pounds per square foot, also known as a snow load.

On the Fourth of July weekend, a deck in Emerald Isle, North Carolina collapsed when it couldn’t support the weight of 24 family members taking a picture on it. Many were seriously hurt. As of Monday afternoon, five people were still in the hospital. The family was renting the home. Clayton Town Manager Frank Rush said there isn’t much the town can do to regulate rental properties there.

Patrick Devine, owner of The Decksperts, said it’s important the deck is secured to the home and not just to posts in the ground.

“If it’s starting to pull away from the house, it’s starting to sag at all, absolutely right away get it checked out…Know how to frame it properly, use the proper materials, fasteners, and also make sure it’s built to local code,” Devine advised.

You can also replace wood with composite decking material to prevent rotting over time. If you just moved into a new place, you can have your town’s building inspector check your deck’s safety.