Hazard-Free Fun: Making Your Yard Safe for Kids and Pets
Winter is a long, cold test of your children’s patience. All that time pent up indoors waiting for warm weather to return, sitting in front of the television or with a gaming device in their hands, anticipating their favorite outdoor sport or a reunion with the swimming pool. As a parent, you also look forward to letting your kids loose in the backyard so they can burn off all that excess energy. The last thing you’d anticipate is an accident because of something that was overlooked when you were winterizing your home and yard.
Excited kids running around without a care in the world can easily miss something sharp that’s gone unnoticed over the winter hidden beneath layers of snow or old leaves. They may not notice a low-hanging branch, or perhaps you forgot to secure the toolshed door to keep all those hazardous tools from falling into little hands.
As Safety Canada explains below, you don’t have to think like a child to adequately safeguard your property for children and pets. But you should definitely go back over the yard to make certain nothing was forgotten. That should include everything from tightening porch and deck railings to keeping trees and shrubs trimmed and out of harm’s way. For the most part, as MyHealth.Alberta.ca points out, providing for your children’s safety is a matter of diligence and expectation. Remember, children have a real talent for finding the most obscure sources of danger.
The little things
It may not be possible to catch everything, but a careful examination of your backyard should turn up the odd piece of glass or gopher hole, preventing a nasty cut or twisted ankle. Look carefully for loose cable wires, sharp rocks, old pens, or bottle caps. One good way to prevent injury is to make sure kids are wearing shoes with good sturdy soles, or at least a pair of sandals (not flip flops).
Check under bushes or along a hedge line, any place that could conceal something dangerous. If you have a fireplace or like to have bonfires, make sure your stacked wood, which could be home to a snake or spiders, is kept well away from your children’s favorite play areas. Ottawa Life Magazine suggests keeping the grass cut short to prevent ticks, as these nasty creatures love tall grass. Also, a safety fence should always surround an outdoor pool or hot tub.
A fence around the yard is another good idea; kids and pets will be safely constrained to the property and uninvited guests such as wildlife and strangers will be kept out. There are several safety updates that you can make to your yard that have the added benefit of upping your home’s value. This includes setting a play area, as mentioned below – such upgrades to the property are things people look for in a home.
Safe play sets
The days of old metal playsets are pretty much gone, but there are still plenty of old ones in use. If you have a metal set, inspect it carefully for loose fasteners, pieces of splintered wood, or sharp metal fragments. If you have a wooden set, make certain that swings are attached to the frame only with heavy bolts; simple screws can easily become dislodged and give way, causing a broken bone or concussion. If possible, replace an older playset with a newer, safer model made of hard plastic.
Patios and other hard surfaces
During the winter, water that gets into cracks becomes frozen and expands, causing openings to widen. Check for widening cracks or unlevel areas that could cause a child to slip or fall. Other safety precautions include making sure that railings around the deck, patio, or walkways aren’t loose.
Trim and prune
Loose limbs and branches pose a danger to people and to your house. If one strikes a nearby power line, it can cause a fire or power outage. Be sure that your tree limbs are cut back so that children and pets who happen to be in the wrong place when the wind blows aren’t seriously injured.
It’s important to monitor your lawn as carefully as you would your home’s interior – your children’s safety is at stake. Train yourself to watch for small, sharp objects that little eyes could easily miss. And make sure there’s a locked safety fence around your pool and other potential danger points.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.
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