Let’s Make your Yard a Safe Haven
Backyards are full of wonderful, relaxing, and entertaining enjoyment. However, ever the most well-tended and thoughtfully laid out landscaping can be problematically risky to your family. As we’ve been discussing this month so far, pools can be quite dangerous to young children and pets. Take a look HERE for our blog about fencing in your pool, and HERE for some safety tips you can teach your kids to follow around the pool. That said any water feature could be dangerous to little kids, as well as gardening tools. It is wise to lock up all tools in a dry place away from curious, little hands. Also, some plants could be harmful to your family, it is always best to research the kinds of plants that grow on your property. Whether plants you wish to purchase or even the natural ivy that’s been growing in the backyard since you moved in. By observing some of these rules here, we can work together to make sure your yard does what it was meant to do, be the relaxing enjoyment of the summer season.
- Water: Don’t allow children near to any water feature without adult supervision (one adult for every three kids is recommended). Swimming pools should be secured with a 4-foot minimum fence or hedge and a locked gate.
- Storage: Keep all tools and chemicals out of reach of children. Store them under lock and key when not in use – and that means putting them away as soon as you’ve finished using them. Store gasoline and propane in a cool as well as a secure place – and refill outdoors, not in the garage.
- Tools: Have the correct tools for the various yard chores. Clean them and look after them. Don’t wear lose clothing when you use machinery and tie back long hair. Never operate machinery if you have used alcohol or drugs. See also the separate yard work section below.
- Instructions: When you buy new stuff, whether it’s an inflatable raft, a lawnmower or a barbecue, read the instructions before assembling and using. The same approach applies to fertilizers and insecticides – make sure you know how to use them safely by reading the instructions, and what to do if hands or eyes become contaminated.
- Safety Zone: When you’re working with power tools in the yard, keep everyone out of your work area. Preferably have another person keep watch, especially if there are children around. And if anyone does step into your work zone, stop, switch-off and move them out. See the separate yard work section below.
- Barbecues: When you use a barbecue, make sure you not only know how to operate it but also that you observe food hygiene rules, which means keeping items refrigerated for as long as possible, covering them once they’re brought out and cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Never pour flammable liquid onto an open flame, and keep others (and alcohol!) well clear of the cooking area. And that location, by the way, should be at least 10 feet away from any structure.
- Weather: Whatever the weather, there’s clothing to suit. Use layers that you can remove gradually, when you venture out during cold weather, while, in the summer, ensure you – and especially your children – are properly protected against sun exposure.
- Poisonous plants: Get to know which plants in your yard and poisonous and don’t grow them within normal reach. You’d be surprised how many there are –oleander for example — that are harmful, usually not to the touch but certainly to the digestive system. Find lists online by searching for “poisonous plants” (try this Wikipedia list – http://tinyurl.com/wiki-plants ) or ask an expert at a local garden center or college horticulture department. Remember too that many of the non-organic chemicals you use around the garden might be poisonous too – check the label.
- First Aid: Keep a first aid kit properly stocked and easily accessible. Anyone suffering a wound from a garden tool or poisonous plant should seek medical advice. Be alert to the risks of sunburn – no more than 15 minutes exposure for delicate skin. And use a sunscreen with a minimum protective factor of SPF 15. Treat mild burns with aloe vera – otherwise, seek medical advice.
- Pets: Watch out for your pets – not only protecting them from poisonous plants and hot surfaces like asphalt, but also protecting others from their natural exuberance when they get outdoors or from the messes they dump. Clean up immediately.