Safe Summer Fun
Keep the kiddos out of harm’s way during long, lazy backyard days
By: Amanda Prischak
Your backyard might be a fun place for the kids and the rest of the family. But is it safe? Each year, about 51,000 children are injured on backyard playground equipment alone. And thousands of others are injured or even die doing other activities. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to stay safe on land, air or water.
Swing sets: Opt for one with seats made of something soft instead of wood or metal. Install the set on a level surface and consider setting it in concrete. Place energy-absorbent material like sand, rubber or mulch underneath the set. Periodically check to make sure no screws or bolts are uncapped, rusted or broken. On hot days, check the temperature of slides and swings to prevent burns.
Trampoline: Make sure your model has shock-absorbing pads that fully cover the frame, hooks and springs. Refrain from using a ladder that could give small children unsupervised access to the trampoline. Only allow one person on at a time and have a no-somersaults policy. Make sure you buy anadd-on cage enclosure that keeps anyone from bouncing off. Replace the fabric and springs regularly.
Pool: Install fencing that’s at least five feet high and features self-locking, self-closing gates. Regularly check and repair the pool’s drain and suction covers to prevent accidental entrapment. Never let anyone swim alone, and make sure children are well supervised. Have a pool hook, plenty of lifevests, a ring buoy with line and a phone close by. Consider learning CPR and use a pool cover when the fun’s done. Ban head-first dives.
Tree houses: Choose a strong, sturdy tree that’s far away from any electrical wires. Refrain from placing the house any higher than 10 feet. Make sure the path up is a solid barrier wall that’s at least 38 inches tall and don’t hang any ropes or chains—they pose strangulation risks. Spread lots of mulch underneath the tree house. Each spring, check for any rotting or wear on the tree house and branches supporting it.
Wood surfaces: While cancer causing arsenic-basedwood was phased outin 2003, your wood structuresmay contain it and otherharmful chemicals. Stay safe bysealing decks every year with penetrating deck treatments. Refrain from pressure washing or using any deck washing treatments as they can turn wood toxic; instead, clean with disposable rags and soap and water. Err on the side of caution with picnic tables and cover with a tablecloth.