Nothing is more inviting than a sunlit backyard with a soft, grassy carpet and an array of colorful flowers. As the temperatures start to warm up, you will need to make sure your serene backyard is safe for your children and pets. Here’s a handy checklist to make sure that you’ve covered all the crucial areas.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Unintentional Drowning fact sheet, drowning is the fifth-leading cause overall of unintentional injury death in the United States, and children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.
Does your yard have an inground or above-ground pool? That water’s pretty irresistible to children and pets, so it’s important to include safeguards that keep everyone dry unless it’s time to swim.
- Install a safety cover: These covers are especially good for wintertime, and you can buy them for above- or inground pools.
- Install a pool alarm: One style, an invisible fence, includes perimeter points that you set up at designated areas around your pool. These points create a laser field when breached by a child or animal, triggers an alarm.
The second type of pool alarm is a pressure sensitive and sits on the pool’s edge. It includes a tube that extends into the water. When something–a child or a pet–breaks the water’s surface, the wave that ripples out hits the tube and triggers an alarm.
- Install a gate alarm: If your pool is enclosed by a gate, it’s a good idea to include a gate alarm. Gate alarms attach to the gate and emit a magnetic field which, when broken, sounds the alarm.
Poolsafely.gov offers a wealth of other suggestions, tips and a free Pool Safety Toolkit to anyone who takes the Pool Safely Pledge.
What better way to encourage kids to notice the world around them than by encouraging them to explore the garden? Oklahoma State University provides a checklist of reminders to keep you and your family safe. Here are a few basics:
- Avoiding poisonous plants: Know what plants are safe for human and animal consumption; remove or place high out of reach any plants that may be dangerous to your child’s or pet’s health. It’s easy to spot a child who’s zeroed in on a particular plant, especially since you’re more likely to be outside supervising your kiddo.
But if you send the dog out to do his business or stretch his legs (and chase a few squirrels), and your pup happens to enjoy munching on things that grow, he could easily, unintentionally poison himself. The Kennel Club has a list of house and garden plants that are poisonous to dogs, including azaleas, cyclamen, daffodil bulbs, hyacinth, foxgloves, and daylilies. The website provides a list of poisonous plants to dogs.
Not sure if your pet or child has ingested a poisonous plant? Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or visit webpoisoncontrol.org.
- Fence safety: If your garden or yard is enclosed by a perimeter fence, check it at the beginning of each season, and periodically throughout the spring, summer and fall months when you’re outside, to ensure that it’s still sturdy and secure.
- Proper tools & chemicals storage: Store any chemicals, fertilizers, mulch and other garden equipment and projects in a shed or garage, high out of reach.
Play Equipment Safety
In a child’s imagination, the backyard isn’t a yard–it’s a pirate ship attacking a hapless merchant. It’s a magical world inhabited by fairies and talking critters. It’s a battlefield where trainers fight to see whose Pokemon is champion.
Keep your adventurers, your little Ninja warriors and circus performers safe. Tighten all the bolts, nuts and other fasteners of play equipment regularly for security. Anchor swing sets to the ground. Check the trampoline’s pads, bolts and screws for wear and tear. Make sure all the springs are covered and the net is secure. Trampoline First is a great resource for proper trampoline care and maintenance.
Provide a safe landing for your gymnasts. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends surrounding play equipment with a 9-inch deep layer of mulch, wood chips or rubber matting that extends 6 feet beyond the equipment.
Taking a few precautions ensures everyone’s protection and gives you peace of mind so that you, too, can enjoy your backyard with your children and pets.