When you think of summer, you think of sunny days spent outside having fun with your friends and family.
Your backyard might be your oasis, but you should still expect the unexpected. Summer can be surprisingly dangerous with the hot sun, biting insects out in full force, and sudden accidents.
Yard Work Safety Tips
Just like playing a sport can cause injury to your body, working in the yard can too.
1. Avoid the hottest parts of the day.
Get yard work done before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. Between those hours is the hottest time of day, and working before or after those times can help you avoid any sun-related issues like sunburns, dehydration or heat stroke.
2. Protect your back while picking up heavy objects.
Bend at the knees, not the waist, as you pick up yard equipment or piles of leaves or grass. Focus on using your legs to lift the load, rather than using your back.
3. Wear protective gear and clothes.
Wear protective clothing and gear when you’re working outside. Yard work can be hard on the body in a lot of ways – not just muscle strain. To avoid painful blisters on your hands, wear gloves. And if you have asthma or allergies, wear a mask, so you don’t inhale more dust and pollen.
Working in the yard can mean handling chemicals, contaminants, and skin irritants. Your clothes can always protect you against ticks, mosquitoes, and other pests you may encounter outside.
Protect your eyes from flying debris by wearing goggles, especially when you’re using machinery and power tools. Eye injuries are common but easily preventable with a simple pair of safety goggles.
4. Remember to stay hydrated to avoid heat-related illnesses.
Even if it isn’t hot and humid outside, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated is one of the essential summer safety tips because dehydration can cause serious harm. If you aren’t feeling thirsty, it’s still possible that you’re dehydrated, so set a timer if you need the reminder to drink water. And when you’re hydrating, step into the shade, so you don’t spend the entire day in the hot sun.
When you’re engrossed in hard work, it can be easy to forget to stop and take a break until it’s too late. If you spend too much time in the hot sun without hydrating properly, you can start to feel sick. Be aware of how your body feels and remember common symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Symptoms of heat-related illness are:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid pulse
- Loss of consciousness
5. Wear sunscreen whenever you’re outside for a prolonged period.
Don’t be deceived by a cloudy day. You can still get a sunburn on a cloudy day because UV rays come through the clouds. Use zinc- or titanium-based physical sunscreen instead of a chemical sunscreen that penetrates the skin. A wide-brimmed hat will help further protect your neck and face. Remember to reapply sunscreen every couple of hours, especially if you’ve been sweating or swimming.
6. Keep pests away by making sure they don’t have a natural habitat in your yard.
Mosquitoes thrive in damp areas, so an easy way to practice backyard mosquito control is to empty anything in your yard that contains standing water, like your gutters, pet water dishes, planters, buckets, pool covers, old tires, or birdbaths.
7. Be vigilant about checking for ticks and other insect bites at the end of the day.
When you’re done for the day, scan your entire body for ticks – particularly in your hair – and shower to remove the insect repellent. Checking for bites and ticks is especially crucial if you live near a wooded area or your yard has tall grass where ticks love to live.
Backyard Party Safety Tips
Inviting the neighborhood over for a cookout is a classic summer pastime, but have you thought of ways to keep your guests safe?
Before you host an outdoor party this summer, there are a few things you can do to ensure the safety of your guests before they arrive.
8. Prevent trips and falls with adequate lighting on paths and stairways.
Exterior lighting can also deter burglars, especially if they have motion sensors. Your guests will be able to see clearly where they can walk and mingle, and no one will be in danger of tripping and spilling their food and drink.
9. Practice grill safety, especially if there are kids around.
Establish a 3-foot safety zone for kids around the grill and make sure it’s at least 10 feet from your house. A perfectly grilled burger isn’t worth setting your home on fire.
Gas Grill Safety
- Regularly check gas valves, hoses, and connections for leaks, especially before you fire up the grill for the first time this summer.
- Make sure to keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and the trays underneath.
- If you smell gas, turn off the gas tank and burners.
Charcoal Grill Safety
- If you’re using a charcoal grill, keep your lighter fluid a safe distance from the grill and never add lighter fluid to coals that are already hot or warm.
- Allow coals to burn out entirely and let ashes cool at least 48 hours before disposal. If you have to dispose of the ashes before they’re thoroughly cooled, place them in heavy-duty foil and soak them with water before disposing of them in a non-combustible container.
10. Make sure there are shady spots and plenty of water for your guests.
Depending on the weather and the party activities, a party can quickly go downhill if your guests get dehydrated and too hot.
Umbrellas, awnings, or trees can provide a refreshing relief from the sun. You don’t want sun fatigue to bring the party down, so, offer a shady spot to keep your guests safe and cool. You get extra points if you make sunscreen available for your guests.
Make sure that there is plenty of water available too. Soda and alcohol will only make dehydration worse, so when you’re planning the contents of the coolers, make sure at least one is full of water.
11. Make sure insects don’t crash the party.
An easy method of backyard mosquito control is a fan. Mosquitoes are weak flyers, so even if a fan is on low, it’ll create enough airflow to keep them away. Set up a few to create cross-breezes, so the mosquitoes don’t ruin the party.
You can also treat your yard with mosquito barrier treatment before the party to ensure your guests don’t leave covered in itchy bites.
Yard Safety Tips for Children
Children don’t always know what’s dangerous and what’s not. There are simple steps you can take to make sure they’re safe in the backyard, and your summer stays easy and fun.
12. Take a few easy steps to make sure it’s a safe summer in the pool.
- Install a 4-5-foot-high fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate (this is mandatory in many municipalities).
- Keep emergency flotation devices within easy reach, just in case
- Keep a pool-safety toolkit that includes a first-aid kit and scissors to cut hair and clothing nearby.
- Always drain kiddie pools when they’re not in use.
13. If you have a swing set or other play structure in your yard, make sure it meets safety standards.
- Ensure 6 feet of clearance on all sides and check that swings are at least 8 inches apart.
- Put a landing material in the play area that’s soft
- Make sure bolts are secure and aren’t sticking out.
14. Protect your children from too much sun.
Always use sunscreen with an SPF of 15-30. Make sure to choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Remember to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, especially if you’re spending time in water or sweating.
The sun is at its hottest from 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so avoid being in the sun as much as possible. Stay in the shade as much as possible and stay hydrated.
If your child does get a sunburn, the best remedies are cold compresses, over-the-counter pain relievers, and Aloe vera.
15. Don’t let a sting ruin your day.
Check under your eaves and decks for bee or wasp nests before children are playing around the area. They might be tempted to play with the nest, so to avoid disaster, make sure the area is clear.
16. Always use bug repellent when you’re outside.
To protect your child from bug bites, use repellent on the outside of clothing and exposed skin, but avoid putting it on cuts. To make sure you protect their face, mist a little repellent in your hand and rub it on their face, avoiding their eyes and mouth.
And if you’re playing or hiking in woods or fields with long grass, tuck clothing into pants and pant cuffs into socks to protect against ticks. At the end of the day, check their entire body for ticks.
17. Keep an eye out for poisonous plants.
Be on the lookout for poisonous plants like poison ivy, sumac, and oak in your yard.
- Poison ivy: Look for three pointed, notched leaves per stem (leaves of three, leave them be).
- Poison sumac: 6-12 leaves grow in pairs with a single leaf topping stems.
- Poison oak: Looks like poison ivy, but the tips of leaves are rounded.
Keeping some Tecnu on hand will go a long way in washing off the rash-causing oils from these plants. Tecnu is a body wash that will remove poison ivy, oak, and sumac oil if it gets on your skin. If you use it within 2-8 hours after exposure, Tecnu can remove the oil before the rash begins.
If you don’t wash off the oils in time or realize that you’ve been exposed to it, the rash will develop within 12 hours. Topical hydrocortisone cream and an oral antihistamine will help calm the itch.
The good news is that the rashes caused by the oils from the plants aren’t contagious. Once the skin has been washed and clothing removed, the rashes won’t spread more.
18. Keep a first-aid kit handy at all times in case of emergency.
First-aid kits don’t seem necessary until an emergency happens, so don’t be caught unawares. What should you keep in your kit?
First-aid kit essentials:
- Antibacterial gel or foam
- Triple-antibiotic ointment
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Sterile gauze pads
- Adhesive tape
- Cold packs
- Infant and children’s Motrin or Tylenol
- Oral antihistamine
- Rubbing alcohol
- Digital thermometer
- Tecnu to wash off oils from poisonous plants
Pet Protection for Your Yard
Summer can be hard on pets, especially if they have thick fur coats. Make sure your pets are safe in the backyard with these summer safety tips.
19. Keep your pet safe from pesticides and other yard treatments.
First, always verify that the fertilizer or pesticides won’t harm your pet. If you mist your yard, make sure the treatments have completely dried before allowing your pet back into the area.
20. Protect your pets from the dangers of the pool.
Pools can be a serious threat to pet safety, especially if they aren’t agile swimmers. Physical barriers that block access to your pool area will help keep them safe.
Consider teaching your pet how to swim since pools can be very attractive to animals who want to cool off from the heat.
Maintain your pool’s chlorine balance to deter algae growth and complications that can arise if your pet ingests algae or an excess of pool-related chemicals.
21. Your pets need hydration too.
Make sure your furry friend has enough water to stay hydrated if they are outside on hot summer days. Keep a few bowls out with water for when your dog is outside but make sure you don’t leave them out for long as standing water can be a breeding ground for pests like mosquitoes.
22. Be aware that some plants are poisonous to your pet.
When designing and planting your yard, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants are poisonous to pets, including:
- Sago palm
- Lily of the valley
23. Keep fleas and ticks out of your yard
Protect your pets from fleas and ticks by keeping your lawns mowed and trim. Fleas and ticks are typically in tall brush and grass in your yard. To make sure your pets are safe mosquito barrier treatments are also effective against ticks.
You may not need every tip in this guide, but someone might. Share with your friends and family, and have a safe summer full of fun in the sun!