Don't let safety hazards cheat you out of enjoying the warm weather in your own backyard
It's the first day of June, and you know what that means: summer is on the way.
For some, this means staying indoors and cranking up the A/C. For most people, however, it means activities like ballgames, grilling, and vacations. When you're at home, make sure that your backyard is as safe as possible so that everyone can enjoy the warm weather.
Holes and Other Obstructions
Walk over your front and back yard, looking out for obstructions like tree roots and holes. The latter can result in injuries from twisted ankles to bites if they're home to snakes. Fill in any holes you find and consider cutting down any trees whose roots pose a conspicuous hazard.
Grilling out is an American tradition in the summertime, but it can go wrong if you're not careful. Keep the following in mind when before you fire up:
- Leave 10 feet in between the grill and any combustible materials such as deck railing, the side of your house, and nearby plants
- If you have a gas grill, check it for any leaks, blockages, or holes in the hose
- If your grill uses charcoal, wait for the coals to cool down completely before disposing of them. Soak them with cold water and then put them in a noncombustible metal can to dispose of them
- Always make sure to have somebody at the grill when it's in use
Standing water is an excellent breeding ground for pests, especially mosquitoes. Do a weekly check of all the places where water can collect, such as on buckets and tarps, and dump any water you find standing there.
Fire pits are great for hanging out and making s'mores, but they can also be dangerous. Remember these tips if you're thinking about installing one in your yard:
- Like the grill, place the pit safely away from your house, deck, and any plants, including trees
- Make sure at least one adult stays close to the pit at all times when it's in use and while it's cooling off
- To extinguish the fire completely, use sand
Playsets and Trampolines
Kids enjoy having fun in the backyard at least as much as adults, but things can go wrong very quickly if you aren't careful. Regardless of how they're playing, always make sure that at least one adult is supervising the kids at all times.
For trampolines, allow only one child at a time to jump; install a trampoline enclosure to prevent kids from falling off and hurting themselves; anchor the trampoline and enclosure with an anchoring kit; and take away trampoline ladders when not in use to prevent small children from accessing the toy without supervision.
For playsets, check the set regularly for sturdiness, wood rot, rusty bolts, and sharp screws or nails, then make any necessary repairs; check for openings that could trap a child's neck or head; and place the playset securely on a piece of level ground and use a soft material such as wood chips to cushion any falls. Make sure there is at least six feet of clearance on all sides of the swing set.
Inspect your deck every spring, paying close attention to the spot where it attaches to the house. This is known as the ledger board, and it's the spot most vulnerable to water damage. Waterproof the deck every two to three years to prevent the wood from warping and causing falls. Check for splits and cracks in the wood—or try to penetrate 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch into it using a screwdriver—to see if it has been corrupted by moisture. If you can penetrate it, or if there are cracks, the wood needs to be replaced.
Don't let safety hazards cheat you out of enjoying the warm weather in your own backyard. Stay safe, and enjoy the summer!