With school out and temperatures rising, families are spending more time outdoors—grilling, chilling, or just running around and having fun. Here are some backyard summer safety tips to keep the summer fun … fun.
Backyard summer safety and grills
For many people, backyard grilling is one of the best parts of summer. Follow the safety tips for your particular grill type, in addition to these general guidelines:
- Only use grills outside. Never operate a barbecue grill in an enclosed area, such as a tent or garage, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Clean the grill after every use. Grease build-up on the grill plates and in the grease collection tray can catch fire while the grill is in use.
- Place the grill away from structures. Avoid placing the grill next to your home or deck railing. The heat from the grill can create a fire hazard.
- Wear grill-safe clothing. Avoid garments with loose, hanging sleeves or shirt tails. If wearing an apron, tie the strings in the back.
- Control the flames. Dripping grease can cause flare-ups as the fat burns away. Use a spray bottle filled with water to douse these mini-fires.
Before each use, make sure all connection points between the propane tank hose and the regulator—as well as where the hose connects to the burners—are secure. Visually inspect the gas hose for abrasion and wear.
To check for leaks, use a spray bottle to apply a light soap and water solution to the hose. Turn the propane tank on. If you see bubbles, you have a leak. Do not use the grill with a leak. Call a professional service technician or replace the leaking part. If the propane tank itself is leaking, call the fire department.
Do not attach or disconnect a propane cylinder while the grill is in operation or of the grill is hot. When swapping an empty propane tank, check for leaks before using.
Use only charcoal starter fluid to light the fuel source (either charcoal briquettes or wood chunks). Never use gasoline or any other flammable liquid since these substances can explode.
Do not squirt lighter fluid on hot or warm coals.
Cap the starter fluid immediately after use, and place it a safe distance from the grill.
When you’re finished grilling, make sure the coals are completely cooled before disposing. The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) recommends waiting at least 48 hours.
Summer safety and yards
Holes, bumps and tree roots create tripping hazards. Do a thorough walk-through of your yard periodically, especially if you’re in an area where animals dig holes.
Fill holes, chop or dig up dead tree roots, and roll or tamp high spots. If you have trouble with critters or other pests, you want to call for professional help.
Backyard swing sets, playsets and playgrounds
Summer is the prime time to use outdoor play equipment. Conduct regular inspections to make sure it’s sturdy and ready for action. Look for loose screws, nuts and bolts, exposed nails, splinters, or other potential hazards. Make sure you have soft landing areas under swings and slides. Periodically replenish soft landing materials, such as wood chips, to keep the surface soft.
If your play equipment is accessible by others, check with your insurance broker/agent. Play equipment is considered an “attractive nuisance” by most insurers. In many cases, you’re liable if someone is injured on your play equipment, even if they’re trespassing in your yard. Adding additional liability to your homeowners’ policy is inexpensive.
Even if not required by local building codes, consider building a fence or otherwise making play equipment less accessible to neighboring children.
As the Red Cross notes, a child or weak swimmer can drown in the time it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line, or apply sunscreen. Even a small toddler pool can be a hazard: drowning is the leading cause of accidental injury-related death for children ages 1-4.
For extra safety, no one should be in or near the pool alone, and children should never be unsupervised in the vicinity of the pool. Young children should wear life jackets or other flotation devices, even if a responsible adult will be nearby, until they’re strong swimmers.
If someone is drowning, follow the adage, “reach or throw before you go.” If possible, throw a life ring or extend a pole before jumping into the water. Someone who’s drowning can easily panic and pull the rescuer under water.
As mentioned above, when considering a pool, talk to your insurance partner. You’ll likely need additional coverage.
Safety tips on pests and pesticides
The 2023 tick season is expected to be especially severe due to factors such as climate change and species migration. Even if you stay in your backyard and avoid hiking trails, you should still take precautions:
- Avoid wooded areas with leaf litter.
- Mow tall grass that can create a tick habitat.
- Use insect repellent and/or treat clothing.
- Check family members, pets and yourself when you come inside.
- Shower soon after coming inside.
- Wash clothing and dry on high heat, which kills ticks.
For areas with mosquitoes or other insect pests, follow these safety tips from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
- Use non-chemical pest control methods whenever possible. Make sure you don’t have any standing water or leaky pipes, and eliminate pest habitats, such as leaf debris or neglected woodpiles.
- Don’t apply pesticides when children or pets are nearby, and don’t allow them near the application area until the pesticides have dried.
- If you use pesticide where neighbors’ pets might go, put up a warning sign.
- Never apply pesticides on windy days, and wear protective clothing, including long sleeves and eye protection.
- Wash hands immediately after applying pesticides.
Sheds and outbuildings
If you store equipment or chemicals in a shed or other building, keep it secure. Keep equipment and chemicals out of the reach of children, no matter where they’re located. Even if there are no concerns about theft, put a lock on any shed or outbuilding where fuel, chemicals, or potentially dangerous equipment is stored.
We hope these backyard summer safety tips help you and your family enjoy a safe and healthy summer. If you’d like a free review of your current insurance policy, please call us at 877-576-5200 or leave a comment below