Spring is almost here. It won’t be long before winter storms, the Polar Vortex, snow and cold fade into distant memory, as the days get longer. There aren’t too many weeks left before spring weather arrives and people start spending more time outside. Weekend warriors will be aware that harsh winter conditions can be responsible all manner of depredation in our backyards.
Making preparations for outdoor living isn’t purely cosmetic. The most important aspects relate to the safety and well-being of all the family members, including the children, pets and grandparents. That’s a tall order if you have limited time to carry out the important tasks.
Because you’re busy, we have taken the most common backyard hazards and grouped them into three categories to work through as time allows.
The swimming pool and hot tub pose several dangerous risks. However, they are also the most delightful and indispensable features for homes with children and adults who enjoy being outdoors.
With the correct safety measures in place and solid maintenance, a pool will provide years of family fun. Key areas pool owners need to inspect for damage or wear and tear will be the pool enclosure, drain covers, and gates and doors. These are basic guidelines for barriers, although the laws and regulations for pool fences change from state to state and even town to town. If you are in any doubt, it’s best to check the details with your local council.
Always make sure your pool alarm is in good condition. No pool alarm? Now is the perfect time to have one installed before your children and their friends descend on your backyard.
Pesticides and chemicals
Pesticides have a terrible reputation, being associated with cancer, liver problems, kidney damage and hormone issues. Even moderate use has been linked to increased incidences of depression. If your yard maintenance includes chemical aids, consider switching to a natural herbicide and organic lawn care.
Pool chemicals are bad for skin and hair and can cause toxic reactions. Then there is hot tub toxicity, caused from inhaling the vapors released by the steamy water. For optimal family health, cut down on chemicals in your hot tub or swimming pool by switching to a natural pool alternative.
Playsets, outdoor furniture and tools
When old play-sets are structurally sound and still age-appropriate, all that may be needed is a lick of paint. If new play equipment is necessary, guidelines for a home playground can be found here.
Some objects, like play-sets and outdoor furniture can suffer the most from spending a winter outside. Extremes of temperature, excessive moisture and very dry conditions will affect natural materials like wood and canvas.
Pay particular attention to swing seats and wooden benches where lurking splinters can injure small bottoms and little fingers. Adults and pets are not immune either. Rough wood, sharp edges and weather weakened furniture can all cause injuries.
Finally, have a place where the yard tools are stored safely away from children and pets. This can be the garage or a separate storage shed. Where is not important as long as tools go back there after use and can be stored away under lock and key.
These categories are intended to be a starting point, helping ferret out the hidden hazards all homeowners deal with in the run up to warm weather. Tackle the chores in small increments and by the time spring rolls around, the job will be done.