Summer is on its way, and with it you can expect the occasional bicycle accident, skinned knee, or sunburn. We’re usually so focused on the dangers in the “outside world,” it’s easy to forget that injuries can occur in our own back yards. Read on to learn how to recognize and remove these common backyard safety hazards.
Find and Fill Holes in Your Yard
Careless contractors, dying tree roots, or perhaps critters making themselves at home can all be culprits in making your yard a minefield for potential injuries. So explore your yard, conduct a thorough walk-around and carefully examine the ground and grass for loose soil and holes that could cause a twisted ankle or broken bone. If you see loose soil piled around the hole, chances are it’s due to some kind of animal or insect. To keep those holes from coming back, you may want to call an exterminator.
Grill with Caution
You’ve probably been dreaming of throwing that backyard barbecue bash since winter. But careless grilling can cause injuries, house fires, and even explosions. Remember these safety tips before firing up for that first steak of the summer:
- Check your gas grill for hose leaks, blockages, and holes.
- Never step away from the grill while it’s on.
- Grill away from your house, deck, and any flammable objects, particularly if it’s a windy day.
- If you’ve got a charcoal grill, don’t store it indoors after grilling if it still holds freshly used coals. Charcoal emits poisonous carbon monoxide until it has been completely extinguished.
- Extinguish charcoal properly by breaking up the embers with a sturdy stick or long grilling tool, then cover the grill with a lid to deprive the flames of oxygen for half an hour. If this doesn’t do the trick, slowly spray the embers with water.
Test Tree Houses, Jungle Gyms, and Swing Sets for Safety
Improperly constructed or neglected play structures can cause serious injuries to children.
- Make sure the swing set is on a level area and the legs are properly anchored underground and set in concrete.
- Check tree houses and jungle gyms for sharp screws, bolts, or nails.
- Double-check wooden structures to be sure winter weather hasn’t caused them to break down or rot.
- Examine the branches that support the tree house. Make sure they’re still sturdy and don’t show any signs of rot or damage.
For more information on tree house safety, check out our article on How to Build a Safe Tree House.
Get Serious About Swimming Pool Safety
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC), thousands of swimming pool injuries and drowning incidents occur every year, and a great many of these involve young children. Avoid this by following these pool safety tips:
- Never allow children to swim unsupervised. Designate an adult to watch them at all times.
- Invest in a sturdy pool cover for times when the pool isn’t in use.
- Install a fence around the pool. The USCPSC recommends at least a 4-foot high barrier.
- Be prepared to deal with an emergency. Have flotation devices and a pool hook handy to aid in a rescue situation. Ideally, adult supervisors should be trained in CPR.
- Check the pool’s drain and suction covers. If they are missing or broken, repair them immediately. Faulty drains can cause accidental entrapment, which can lead to drowning.
Remove Harmful Tools and Pesticides
The bacteria on dirty yard work tools can cause tetanus, so when you’re finished with your tools, store them in a safe place so no one accidentally steps on them. Make sure sharp implements are safely locked away or out of reach where curious children can’t play with them.
The only way to completely eliminate the risk of pesticide poisoning is using non-chemical methods to control your pest problems. That means making sure you don’t have any standing water or leaky pipes in your yard and getting rid of pest habitats, like leaf debris or neglected woodpiles. If you must use pesticides, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Don’t apply pesticides while children or pets are nearby, and don’t allow them near the area of application until the pesticides have dried.
- When applying the pesticide, remember that wind may blow the spray further than your intended area of use. Avoid using pesticides during rain or on windy days.
- Wear protective clothing including long sleeves and eye protection while using pesticides and thoroughly wash your hands afterward.
- Never use more pesticide than the manufacturer’s recommended amount.