The weather is warming, the sun is shining , and backyards everywhere are about to see a lot more activity. When you found your house, you might have fallen in love with it simply for its backyard and the endless possibilities. As you’ve explored many creative backyard ideas, I’m betting that backyard injury wasn’t one of them. Leading causes of poison and injury might literally be in your own backyard. Let’s review.

Trampoline Safety

Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of trampolines due to the hefty safety concerns, but some people like to have them. Your homeowners insurance policy might be affected with limited-to-no coverage for injury due to trampoline activity. Call your insurance agent for specific details in your policy. If you own a trampoline, recognize the risks and follow these safety guidelines (at a minimum):

  • Install a trampoline enclosure. This net is designed to surround the trampoline as well as the hooks, springs, and frame. The pads are shock-absorbing.
  • Always check for detachments or tears.
  • Only place the trampoline on flat, level ground. If possible, place the trampoline in a pit and make the jumping surface even with ground level.
  • Keep the trampoline away from trees and other structures.

Enforce Trampoline Safety Rules

  • Only one person can be on the trampoline at any time.
  • There must ALWAYS be an adult supervising.
  • No tricks or somersaults allowed.

Slides & Jungle Gyms

If it’s hot outside, chances are your play equipment is soaking in the heat, too. Make sure metal parts have not overheated before allowing your child to play on the potential burn hazards.

Out of the Fire Pit, into the Fire

I talk a lot about fire safety. Unfortunately it’s too easy to take for granted. In fact, I was visiting a friend a few months ago who had a fire pit in his backyard. I was inside when the rest of the group came back in. For about 3 or 4 minutes, the backyard fire was unsupervised. When we returned outside, the fire had spread as though it crawled out of the stone and onto the grass! We were able to extinguish, but it was a close call and took a team. I'm afraid to think what we might have seen after ten minutes.

  • Install fire pits at least ten feet from your house or your neighbor’s yard. Check your community’s rules and contact fire officials to make sure your location is safe (and permitted).
  • Do not install a fire pit under overhanging branches or near fences.
  • Do not use flammable fluids to light fires.
  • Do not wear flammable or loose-fitting clothing.
  • Always check the direction of the wind before you light a fire.

Like trampolines, you should check with your homeowners insurance agent to see if having a fire pit excludes certain coverages or affects your policy in any way. 

Poison Ivy: Three Leaves? Let it Be.

The poison ivy plant has oval leaves with jagged or smooth edges. They tend to cluster in groups of three. Avoid poison ivy because it could lead to incredibly itchy, blistering skin.  Hopefully your yard is ivy-free, but these plants can grow almost anywhere. Poison Ivy isn’t the only hazardous plant. Poisoning from plants is one of the leading causes of poisoning among preschoolers. Teach children not to pick up or eat anything from a plant without your permission.

Mulch is a Danger to your Dog

Did you know that mulch made from cocoa shells is toxic to dogs? Dogs, especially puppies, tend to chew mulch and everything else in sight. Look for less toxic alternatives if you have pets. A dog can choke on any type of mulch, but pine, cedar, and hemlock are a little safer for pets than cocoa bean in terms of toxicity. Just remember that pine needle mulch isn’t 100% safe because it can cause internal punctures if consumed. In fact, no mulch is completely safe. Consider ways to block your dog from accessing mulched areas in your yard.

There’s no way to protect ourselves from all dangers until we live in bubbles (one can dream!), but these safety tips should make things a little safer for you and your family. Happy relaxing!