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Backyard Safety Checklist for Families

By Micah Ryan, M.D.

In the summer, backyards become outdoor living spaces and playing fields. Every backyard is different, from size, to garden, to pool, to trampolines. Here’s a checklist to help parents limit injuries:

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  • Boundaries and Supervision. Teach your child the boundaries within which he or she should play, especially if the yard is not fenced. Never allow your child to play by cooking areas or when mowing or other potential safety concerns may arise. Always have responsible supervision during play. Be careful of metal objects such as door sills and handles, as a long day in the sun can objects blistering hot.
  • Pool Safety. Surround your pool with a high fence or barrier attached with a self-closing latch and gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any steps used for access. The pool should maintain proper filtration and chemical levels. Consider installing a pool alarm that can notify you if anyone enters the pool and always have responsible supervision. Learn more about home pool safety at the redcross.org.
  • Trampoline Safety. Orthopaedic physicians would warn against the use of a trampoline at all times, but if you have one, make it as safe as possible. Use safety nets and pads to cover the trampoline’s frame and regularly check the equipment for tears and damages. Make sure to place the trampoline on an even surface and away from trees or other hazards. Allow only one person to use the trampoline at a time and always supervise your child’s activities.
  • Dangerous Plants. If you are unsure about the plants in your yard, call the local Poison Help Line (1–800–222–1222) and request a list of poisonous plants common to your area. Replace the plants or securely fence and lock the area of the yard. Teach your child never to pick and eat anything from a plant without your permission. This is particularly important if you have a garden with produce that could be eaten. If you use pesticides or herbicides on your lawn or garden, read the instructions carefully and do not allow children to play on a treated lawn for at least 48 hours.
  • Insects. Apply insect repellent to clothing and exposed skin before going outside, especially at dawn and dusk. Non-DEET or low percentage DEET products are safest, especially for young children. Insect repellents containing DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under 3 years of age. When no longer exposed to insects, wash off the repellent. Long sleeves and pants can be beneficial when dealing with outside environments and insects.
  • Cooking. When cooking outdoors, screen the grill so your child cannot touch the grill and explain that it is too hot to touch. Explain the area is a kid free zone and store away the grill after use when it is completely cool. If roasting marshmallows, teach your child to blow out a marshmallow fireball and to always walk with a hot roasting pole straight up in the air away from the body.
  • Storage and Protection. Store any sharp or motorized equipment with the pointy end facing down and flammable fluids away in a locked storage or garage. Always wear shoes if your yard surface contains sharp objects like wood chips or stones and wear protective gear like ear plugs or goggles if you are using mowing equipment.

Share the checklist with your family and discuss any questions or concerns together. Now that the checklist has been shared, spend some quality time in the backyard this summer with family and friends!