The sun is shining and your backyard is officially open for the season. Before you and your family head outside, follow this outdoor safety checklist to make sure there aren’t any dangers lurking in your yard.
Double Check What’s in Your Garden
Planning for a spring vegetable garden? Keep Fido out. Onions, tomatoes, chives and garlic are toxic to dogs, and at the very least, can cause them stomach distress. The same goes for your flower garden. Many flowers — including autumn crocus, foxglove and azaleas — are toxic and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and even death. Grow plants in an area that animals can’t access or in pots out of reach.
Fertilizers can also contain chemicals that could sicken your dog. Avoid mulch that contains theobromine. And keep all chemicals meant to boost plant growth away from where your pooch likes to dig or play.
Be Careful with Chemicals
Poison can affect more than just your target when ridding your yard of weeds. Consider using them only in areas people and animals can’t get to. To further maximize your yard safety, be sure all chemicals (including pool care supplies) are in secure areas that little hands or paws can’t reach.
Secure the Fencing Around Your Yard
The barriers around your property have a big impact on yard safety. Make sure your fence has no spaces where pets and children can squeeze through, and wander out of the yard or into a pool area.
For dogs in particular, know that many breeds can get past a 6-foot barrier, and clever pooches who can’t hop over may still find ways to get out. Keep trash bins and other raised surfaces your dog may climb away from the fence.
Also remember that even small dogs can dig their way out if your fence is on dirt, gravel or grass. If your dog likes to dig, line the bottom of the fence with chicken wire or mesh. The deeper the better, but 6 inches down should do the trick.
Discourage Uninvited Animal Guests
Depending on what part of the country you’re in, you may get an occasional uninvited visitor. Coyotes, possums, raccoons, skunks and deer all bring their own dangers to pets and children playing in the yard.
To deter these uninvited guests, keep smells at bay by tightly sealing garbage cans; leave dog food and bowls inside; and keep meat, fruit and other aromatic food waste out of the compost pile.
Practice Water Safety (and Not Just Around the Pool)
Drowning and near-drownings are all too common among kids. This makes water safety an important addition to any outdoor safety checklist.
Children can drown in less than an inch of water. A cleaning bucket, kiddie pool or pond can be just as a dangerous as a swimming pool. Survey your yard for any sources of water your child could fall into or be tempted to play in. Cover hot tubs when not in use, and keep any containers of liquid out of reach, ideally locked away.
Keep Tools Out of Little Hands
To curious kids, shovels and garden clippers can seem like fun toys. But these tools are sharp and could carry the bacteria that causes tetanus. Keep them out of reach. If your child gets a cut from rusted metal, ask your doctor if a booster shot is needed.
Beware the Barbecue Grill
Each year, many kids are taken to the emergency room for grill-related injuries. Charcoal and gas grills can stay hot for hours after cooking, and it only takes a second to get a serious burn. Keep your yard safe by regularly cleaning your grill, emptying the grease trap and checking your gas tank for leaks. There are additional safety precautions you can take to keep your barbecue safe, including making sure it isn’t near anything easily flammable, like a tree branch, awning or patio railing.
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