Friday, May 25, 2018

7 Summer Backyard Safety Tips for Parents

The wait is finally over and summertime is just about here. That means sunshine, pool fun, outdoor activities, and backyard barbecues.

A whopping 85 million U.S. households have private lawns, and while the summer brings a time of happiness and fun for many people, it can also be a time of new outdoor hazards -- especially for those with children.

So before the summer gets into full swing, take some time to familiarize yourself with these backyard safety tips to ensure you and your family can enjoy the summer worry-free.

Establish Boundaries

Children are (hopefully) going to want to play outdoors. Most parents would welcome the opportunity for an empty house, but without proper limits set in place it can lead to parental worry and hazards for children.

If you have a large backyard or outdoor space, particularly one that isn’t fenced in, then you should clearly indicate where your children are permitted to go. Children who are aware of the limits of their play area will be able to play without parents having to keep a constant eye on them.

However, there are always risks associated with letting children play unsupervised. If you aren’t willing to rest the weight of your concerns on a figurative definition of space, then consider putting up a privacy fence. This will quite literally mark the limits of your child’s play area, and will also keep any unwanted eyes or visitors away from your child.

You should also remove any tripping hazards from your child’s play area. On average, 25,000 Americans sprain their ankle every day, which can be from something as simple as a rock jutting from the ground. So creating a safe play area without obstacles will reduce the chance your child suffers an injury.

Inspect Playground Equipment

If you have a playground in your backyard, then the neighborhood children probably think your house is the “cool house.” Playgrounds are great because they encourage children to be active, but if they aren’t properly inspected and maintained, then they can pose a danger to your child.

At the beginning of the summer (so right about now), you should have your playground equipment inspected and serviced. As the summer progresses, you should continue to personally inspect the playground to ensure it continues to be safe. Make sure that it sits on a level platform and is steadily secured at the base to avoid tipping. You can use old clothes to wrap swing set chains, rust spots, or create a carpet-like surface over wooden landings on jungle gyms to prevent splinters. The average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year, so you can easily replace what you use each spring.

Adding a soft layer of padding could provide an additional layer of safety, giving your child a “soft landing” in the chance that they fall. Rocks, mulch, concrete, or hard ground can be dangerous in playground areas.

Lock Sheds and Pool Houses

If you have a shed in your backyard filled with tools and lawn care equipment, it’s a good idea to keep the door closed and locked at all times. Children are naturally curious, and a shed is just another place for them to explore, albeit a very dangerous one. If you’re using equipment to work, be sure to close the door behind you and latch it. Similarly, you should keep pool houses and other backyard structures securely closed and locked as well to keep kids out of areas they shouldn’t be. It’s also a good home security tip as well, keeping intruders out of your outdoor buildings.  

Grill Safely

Grills are the source of memorable summer cookouts, but they aren’t safe for children. It can be tempting to leave the grill uncovered and out in the open on a beautiful summer day, especially when you just get done using it. Granted, it’s a smart grilling practice to let the grill cool down after use, so you should teach your child to stay away from the grill. It’s important to put all potentially dangerous items such as propane, matches/lighters, and sharp utensils up and out of the reach of children, even if you’re waiting for the grill itself to cool down.

Establishing safe boundaries away from the grill and insisting that your child wears shoes while the grill is in use are also great ways for a parent to take the safety initiative.

Keep Lawn Mowers and Equipment Out of Reach

Lawn care equipment is usually pretty dangerous in general, even for capable adults. So it’s extremely important to make sure you take the necessary precautions when considering lawn equipment safety for your child.

First and foremost, you should practice safe lawn mowing methods when you have children about. If you’re mowing the lawn and your kids are outside playing, be sure not to leave the mower running and unattended even for a brief period of time. While your child might think it’s relatively harmless to take a little joy ride, lawn mowers are essentially rotating blades on wheels. You should canvas the lawn for any toys or rocks as well, not only to preserve the integrity of your blades but to prevent anything from shooting out from underneath the mower as well. And always look behind you when reversing.

For all other lawn care equipment, keeping them out of the reach of your children is the best practice to use. You should also teach your children mower and equipment safety so they have a sense of the danger associated with those things.

Practice Pool Safety

There are numerous cases of children drowning each year, making pools particularly dangerous. If the pool is inground, there should be a fence surrounding the water that is tall enough to keep your child out, and a latchable door to prevent your child from accessing the pool without you being present. If the pool is above ground and you have a deck leading to the edge, installing a swing gate that has a latch is a good way of blocking your child from gaining access. If you just have a ladder ascending up and over the wall of your above-ground pool, consider removing it when the pool is not in use.

Children should be supervised at all times when enjoying the pool. Not just from the kitchen window, but outside in close proximity.

Apply Sunscreen

If your child is going outside to play, or you are all going to enjoy some fun in the pool, be sure your child uses sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology encourages people to use a broad spectrum waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Even if it’s relatively cloudy outside, your child can still be exposed to UV rays, so use sunscreen at your discretion.

There’s no manual on how to raise a child, and nobody knows what’s best for everyone, but hopefully this guide helps you provide you and your child with a fun and safe summer experience.


  1. One more is to use bug spray. Mosquitos can be a problem especially in the south.


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