Summer is when we think about relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. Many of us do more entertaining during the nice weather as it's easy to invite friends over for a last minute barbecue. Your home might be safe for those who live there and know about the lose step or broken latch on a gate, but when you're entertaining you want to take more precautions.
Here are safety tips to keep your family and friends free from harm all summer long. Print a copy of these home safety tips and review with your children, babysitters and other caregivers not familiar with your home.
Summer Safety Tips at Home
It's not a long list checklist, but an important one. Make time to review it personally, and especially with your children and their friends.
- Be Prepared – Keep a first aid kit handy for small accidents. Make sure everyone knows where to find the kid, including the babysitter.
- Prepare for Guests – Visit your home and be the guest. Is it clear where they should park or confusing because the children's bikes are lying on the driveway, or the basketball hoop limits driveway parking? Draw a simple map of your home and let everyone know what happens where to avoid confusion. A simple bike rack behind the house is helpful.
- Summer Storm Safety – Stay alert to the possibility of lightning and go inside immediately. Once inside, stay away from electrical appliances, electronics like TVs and computers, telephones, doors and windows. The idea is to avoid contact with anything that lightning might follow if it strikes your house.
- Outdoor Cooking – Don't assume the outdoor grill is as safe as indoor cooking. Check connections between propane tanks and the grill for leaks and only use starter fluid with a charcoal grill. Keep the “grilling area” free from other objects (3 ft recommended) and don't allow children or pets around while cooking. Never bring an outdoor grill indoors or any space that isn't ventilated like a screened porch or garage.
- Pool Safety – Make sure the fence surrounding your pool is secure and gates work properly (self-closing and self-locking). Keep rescue equipment near the pool and never leave children unsupervised. Teach your children to swim early (age 4) and avoid inflatable swimming aids which give a false sense of security. For large groups, assign an adult to monitor the water at all times.
- Keeping Play Spaces Safe – Follow a consistent maintenance/repair schedule including an inspection of all equipment once a year. Swing seats should be soft and children should not be able to reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap them. Monitor playing to insure slides aren't too hot and portable toys like a rope are never attached to a swing set. Make sure everyone wears shoes.
- Pet Safety -Not everyone likes animals so keep dogs on your property at all times with a backyard fence or backyard leash that can't get tangled. Remember that dogs don't sweat like humans so they need your help staying cool with a shady area, dog house with ventilation and/or dog door to return inside where it's cool.
- Bug Safety – Eliminate areas that support insect nests like stagnant pools of water. Direct unwanted water away from your home and build/move garbage cans and compost boxes far from outdoor living spaces. A screened porch is an alternative solution so you can enjoy the outdoors without bugs.
- Lawn Mower Safety – Teach your children to respect and learn how to use tools properly. Riding mowers should not be used by children younger than 16 years, and they should be at least 12 to handle walk-behind mowers. Pick up objects on the lawn before mowing to reduce injuries from flying objects. Wear sturdy shoes that won't come off.
- Bicycles, Scooters and Skateboards – Teach your children to always wear a helmet (meeting CPSC safety standards) to avoid serious injury. Review rules about where it is safe to ride and always use equipment that is the right size and age appropriate. Bikes that are too big are dangerous and hand brakes require coordination that younger children may not have.