By : Christine Hill
We can’t protect our children from every single bump and scrape. However, there are still measures you can take to minimize the risk of serious accidents in your yard. Before the sports start, do a summer safety sweep of your back yard and make sure it’s ready for rambunctious kids.
Jungle Gyms and Swing Sets
Jungle gyms and swing sets are tons of fun. For many kids, they’re the highlight of the yard. However, they can also pose serious summer safety hazards. Rusty nails, unstable structures, and protruding pieces can all spell disaster for a careless child.
- If the slide is buckled, twisted, or has any pieces not firmly attached or sticking out, you’re probably better off without it. Slides are one of the most common causes of injuries. Repair the slide, take it off and board up the entry point to, or get rid of the set altogether.
- Check the chains and seats on swings to make sure that they’re still safe.
- Look over the whole structure searching for nails, screws, cracks, and sharp points.
- How’s the surface under the swing set? It should be a material with a little bit of give, like soft grass or wood chips. This will cushion any falls that might happen.
- While we’re on the subject of swings, take care with any kind of tree swing in your yard, especially if they’re homemade. Ropes fray over time and often, we don’t notice it until there’s an incident. If you have chains instead of ropes, check for sharp edges and rusted links.
Your lawn is usually the stage for your children’s dramas, sports, and games. Ideally, it will be a wide open space, free from any obstructions or tripping hazards.
- Check your lawn for holes and pits. A deep, narrow hole could be an indication of burrowing gophers or snakes, and might be the reason for a turned ankle or two.
- Do a visual sweep of the lawn after the sprinklers have been on. Check for places where water is puddling, and any sign that sprinkler heads don’t retract after they’re done with their cycle. Protruding sprinklers can be a tripping hazard. Additionally, once they’ve been kicked a few times, they’re sure to break and can be more inconvenient and expensive to fix.
Pests and Critters
Your back yard can harbor a multitude of harmful pests, especially if you have a pet and its food bowl is just too tempting an offer for the neighborhood raccoons to pass up. You want to guard against anything from stinging ants to rats, so make sure that you check over places where these critters can hide:
- Check rafters and trees for beehives or wasp nests. If you find one, consider calling a professional to help you deal with it. This will ensure that they don’t return, and no one gets hurt during the eviction.
- Check dark corners, and even under plants for spider webs and ant’s nests. Use pesticides and cleaning materials to discourage them from getting too comfortable in your yard. While some insects are useful, others can do a lot of harm to kids.
- Check your sheds and garage for signs of rodents. Mouse droppings, rat’s nests, and rustling sounds can all indicate a larger pest that has taken up residence around your yard. These creatures carry diseases that can be transferred to children who take too much interest in furry critters.
Pools and Water Features
- If you have a pool, it should be well protected. At the very least, a four-foot fence should run the perimeter, with self-latching gates, and sides that are hard for kids to climb. Consider getting a sturdy cover for the pool when it’s not in use, and using cameras or alarms to monitor the pool area when you’re not around. Never let children swim alone, even if they’re competent swimmers.
- Do you use a small kiddie pool in your yard during the summer? Don’t leave the water out day after day, warming in the sun. This can encourage growth of algae and bacteria, which can give kids irritating rashes.
Everyone knows that summer fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down. Children’s outdoor games can often go long into the evening. Once darkness falls, even totally harmless spaces can become more dangerous. This danger can range from harmful pests becoming more bold, to simple things in your yard becoming tripping dangers. Keeping your back yard well lit will keep kids safe during their games. It’s also a great way to enjoy your beautiful landscaping after dusk falls.
Mom and Dad’s Projects
If you are working on something this summer, you’ll want to have a designated zone that kids stay out of when they play. This might mean space for Dad to work on an old car, or a zone for mom’s furniture projects. Even if your space is well-known to your kids as a no-go zone, put away dangerous tools and materials when you’re not out working on your project. Pesticides, oil, hammers, and power drills can all be tempting to children.
Once you’ve run through this checklist for backyard summer safety, let the kids run wild, and enjoy your summer worry-free.