With the end of winter in sight, there’s never been a better time to start preparing for the advent of spring. Packing away your sweaters and planning for days in the park are two things most people think of when it comes to spring prep. However, there’s one consideration that should be at the top of every parent and pet owner’s spring to-do list: making your backyard kid and pet safe. It sounds like a big task, but doing so will give you the peace of mind to enjoy spring.
Here are four tips that will help transform your backyard into a childproof and pet-friendly area this spring.
1. Conduct a plant audit
You wouldn’t think that the plants in your backyard could pose a danger to both your children and pets. However, there are several common backyard plants and weeds that are poisonous, and if ingested could result in a trip to the hospital or vet.
For example, azalea, daffodils and kalanchoe are just a few of the many popular plants that cause vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects in cats and dogs. Rashes, upset stomachs, and even death can result if your child ingests plants like aster, juniper and boster.
Conduct a plant audit to see if there are any plants that pose a risk to your pets and kids. Don’t forget to include weeds that have naturally popped up in your garden in your audit.
While you’re at it, take the time to clean up debris and hazards like old pieces of wood or brush piles. Mowing your lawn regularly is also a good idea to prevent any nasty weeds from cropping up and pest infestations.
2. Add fencing and alarms to your pool
Make necessary additions or modifications to ensure your pool area is safe. The unfortunate reality is that drowning is one of the leading causes of injury death in the US, and its children aged 14 and under who account for two of the 10 people who die every day from drowning. In fact, most drownings involving children occur in the pool when in the care of one or both parents at home at the same time.
The good news is that there are simple and proven measures you can take that will help prevent any accidents from occurring. In addition to constant adult supervision, you should install a pool fence that is at least 4 feet tall, has self-closing and self-latching gates with latches that are out of reach of children and should separate the pool from the house.
Another addition is to attach alarms to the pool door and side of the pool. Alarms are highly effective in alerting parents to any unusual activity in the pool area. These measures also protect your pets from pool incidents.
3. Safely secure, build, and maintain play structures
Taking the time to secure any play structures is a crucial step to make your backyard secure. One of the simplest ways to reduce injuries is to place play structures on a proper playground surface that is durable to soften the impact of a child's fall. Other considerations include choosing an area that is flat and free of hazards including water, rocks and debris.
When it comes to building play structures, always follow instructions to a tee. Don’t try to cut corners or rewrite the book – the specific instructions which come with each structure are tested to uphold safety standards so making any alterations will compromise them.
You should also regularly inspect and conduct maintenance of all play structures in your backyard. Be sure to look out for any loose screws, broken or cracked areas, or unstable structures and immediately repair, replace, or stow away any unfit for play.
4. Store away dangerous objects
When you look at the gardening and entertainment items you keep stored in your backyard, most may seem innocuous. But through the eyes of a curious child or pet eager to explore, even the most harmless items can pose a danger. Stow all electrical equipment such as lawnmowers and pruning tools in a locked shed. Barbecues also pose a risk of burning or electrocution, so be sure to pack them away from any little ones’ reach once you’re done entertaining. The same goes for non-electrical items such as hedge trimmers, rakes and brooms.
With children and pets in tow, it’s always good to follow the mantra, “Better safe than sorry.” Always looking at your garden through a child or pet’s perspective will give you insight that will help you transform your backyard into a kid and pet-friendly environment.