Maryland Man Receives Second-Degree Burns From His Deck

Composite decking can reach extremely high temperatures in the sun

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We’ve had a lot of hot days this summer, and on one of those days, John Polack from Glen Burnie, Maryland, was on his deck cleaning pillows. He didn’t have any shoes on, and after a few minutes, the bottoms of his feet started burning. He ran back inside and noticed his feet were red, but a few hours later, things got worse and the pain was excruciating.

“They were pretty nasty, they were bleeding, they were split open, skin was falling off,” Polack said.

Polack ended up at the burn unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. His second-degree burns required surgery and rehab, and for the next five weeks, he had to stay off his feet.

News4 found a number of reports online from other people complaining about how hot their composite decks were getting. Some reported their decks exceeding 150 degrees.

Many families choose composite decking over wood because it’s easier to maintain and lasts longer. But the wood and plastic combination that most composite decks are made of also makes them hotter.

A laser thermometer measured Polack's deck at 146 degrees on a 90-degree day. Even though Polack’s deck is in the direct sunlight for much of the day, he said he’s never felt it get that hot before. His biggest worry is his little grandchildren and his dogs who may not have reacted as quickly as he did when his feet started burning.

News4 reached out to the manufacturer and industry experts, and no one wanted to comment.

Keeping your family and pets safe is important, so if you’re building or replacing a deck, make sure to talk with your contractor about the best materials to use for the location. Consider choosing a lighter color that will retain less heat. There are also some newer composite decking materials designed to stay cooler.

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