Backyards were made for carefree summer days, family BBQs and dinners al Fresca. Unfortunately, they’re also the site of many summertime injuries. Use this summer safety checklist to assess your backyard for potential hazards and make the required fixes. Here are 9 hidden dangers in your backyard:
1. Swimming Pools
Children can drown in 1 inch of water, so never leave kids unattended in or near water. Experts recommend fencing backyard swimming pools with a fence that is at least 4 feet high and has a self-latching, self-closing gate, or install a taller fence in accordance with your local county regulations. Repair any missing or broken pool drain or suction covers to prevent accidental entrapment. Hot tubs should have a hard cover and be locked when not in use. Finally, be sure to empty and turn over kiddie pools when not in use, as they’re also a drowning hazard.
Check your fence line for damage and repair as necessary. To protect kids from getting their head or other body parts caught in a fence, be sure the spaces between fence slats and railings are less than 3.5 inches wide.
Many experts agree that trampolines pose a high risk of injury to children and youth. Injuries include broken bones, dislocations, concussions, and neck and back injuries. Safety nets don’t always help because kids are often hurt by getting thrown around while jumping in groups (a similar phenomenon occurs in bounce houses). Safety measures for trampoline use include the rule of one-at-a-time use, adult supervision at all times, safety padding on the frame, routine equipment maintenance, and hazard-free surroundings.
4. Garden Tools
Maintain and repair garden tools, throwing out any that are damaged or broken. Keep children away from sharp tools, preferably by locking tools in a secured container or area. Tools can also carry bacteria, increasing tetanus risk. Protect yourself when using tools by wearing gloves and necessary safety gear.
5. The Grill
If your grill was idle through the winter, do a thorough inspection, paying special attention to connections and hoses, and look for any leaks, cracks, blocks, or holes. Keep children away from the grill, and be sure to always have a fire extinguisher nearby. Finally, never leave a grill unattended while cooking — grills and barbeques cause about 10,600 home fires every year.
6. Patios & Decks
If your deck is made of wood, check for rotted, splintered or loose boards or railings. Brick and stone patios should also be checked for broken or loose pieces. Check concrete for chips and cracks; and metal railings for rust, corrosion, and sharp edges.
7. Weak Tree Branches
If you didn’t get a chance to prune your trees in early spring, make sure you do so ASAP! Look for broken or splintered branches, which could injure people or damage property if they fall. Also remove any dead or diseased limbs (the latter can spread disease throughout the tree), and any that were damaged by winter storms. Ditto for branches protruding over power lines (contact your local utility first, which may provide this service).
Don’t apply pesticides* when children or pets are nearby, and allow plenty of time for them to dry. Follow instructions and don’t apply more than the recommended amount. Avoid spraying on windy days. Wear long sleeves, pants, masks and eye protection when applying them, and be sure to wash your hands afterward. Store pesticides and any chemicals in a secure, locked area. (*Make sure the pesticides you use are in compliance with local environmental regulations.)
9. The Lawnmower
A 13-year study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) highlighted the need for improved safety awareness of lawnmower dangers — especially in rural areas — as well as the significant number of lawnmower-related injuries sustained by children. Teach your kids that lawnmowers are not toys (and don’t take them “on rides” on the mower). Besides collision risk, children are susceptible to burns from hot mower parts, lacerations from sharp rotating blades, and injuries from airborne debris kicked up by the mower. Keep kids away from the yard while mowing!
Taking steps to get your backyard in shape for summer will pay off in the form of good times, sweet memories, and a family safe from needless harm.
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