Spring is finally here which means we can start spending more time outdoors enjoying our backyards and soaking up some sun. However peaceful and tranquil your backyard may be, don’t overlook common outdoor hazards and the risks that come with barbeques, firepits, pools and children’s trampolines.
To ensure your backyard is a safe one for your family and friends, we’ve compiled a check-list of common hazards and safety tips to minimize these risks.
Firepits are a great way to enjoy your backyard, socialize, and cook up some tasty treats. Here are some fire safety tips to ensure your firepit doesn’t take anymore heat than it can handle. Always make sure:
- Firepits are a safe distance from the house and from combustibles (siding, decks, etc.)
- Children stay a safe distance from firepits
- Firepits are never left unsupervised
- There is no debris or dead vegetation near the house
- Trees are pruned and thinned to reduce fuel potential
- Woodpiles are stacked away from the house
- Branches hanging over or touching the roof are trimmed back
Nothing smells better than the distinct aroma of barbequed meats and veggies on the grill. However, these smells can quickly turn sour if barbequing goes awry. Follow these barbeque basic tips to ensure your barbeque is ready to be fired up for the season.
- Inspect and clean your bas barbeque before using for the first time each season
- If the fittings, flex hose or burners are worn or rusted, replace them
- Use a flexible brush (made for the purpose) to clean the tubes between the gas valve and the burner as blockages can occur due to spiders or insect nests
- Check all cylinder connections for leaks before lighting your barbeque for the first time in the spring or anytime you replace the tank – rising bubbles indicate a leak
- Repair all leaks before using the grill and never use matches or lighters to check for leaks
- Only use your barbeque outdoors in an open, well-ventilated area or at least three meters away from windows and doors
- Keep barbeques a safe distance from the house and from combustibles and keep the area clear of branches and leaves
- Never leave the barbeque unattended while cooking
- Keep children a safe distance from the barbeque
Decks should be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure the deck is structurally sound and safe. A faulty deck can have harmful and even fatal consequences.
- Inspect several different areas of the decks to ensure the wood is sound, this includes the ledger board (where the deck attaches to the house as this is a common source of deck failure), support posts and joists, deck boards, railings and stairs
- Pay close attention to areas that tend to remain damp, regularly exposed to water, or in contact with fasteners
- Check flashing (often installed where the house and deck come together) is sound and firmly in place and is effective in keeping moisture and debris from collecting between the house and the ledger board
- Railings and banners should be secure. Push on these to ensure there is no give. Also, double-check to make sure they are high enough and meet building codes.
- Tighten any loose fasteners and re-hammer any nails popping out. Fasteners include nails, screws, or anchors in the ledger board. Consider replacing any rusted or corroded fasteners.
Backyard pools can bring hours of refreshing enjoyment for your family and friends but owning a pool comes with a lot of responsibility. Here are a few some simple steps from the Canadian Red Cross to ensure your backyard pool is safe.
- Build a fence that has a self-closing and self-latching gate; keep the gate closed with restricted access at all times. Be sure to refer to your municipal bylaws for fencing requirements
- Establish pool rules to include swimming with a buddy, children must have an adult with them at all times, and no glass containers around the pool
- Few backyard pools are safe for diving – swimmers should always enter the water feet-first
- Have readily accessible reaching or throwing assists, a working phone and first aid kit
- Have an Action Plan including adult supervision, an emergency signal, safety equipment and emergency procedures
- Keep the deck clear of toys and debris
- Do not use alcohol or drugs in or around the pool
- Hot tubs should not exceed 40° C and are not recommended for pregnant women, toddlers or infants
Children’s trampolines are a great way for kids to have fun while staying active. According to the Canada Safety Council, backyard trampolines can be an enjoyable and healthy activity for children as long as these precautions are met:
- Make sure the trampoline equipment is safe and meets ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) requirements
- Give the trampoline a quick inspection prior to each use
- Set up the trampoline away from structures, trees or other play areas
- Make sure the shock absorbing pads cover the springs, hooks and frame, leg braces are secure and the bed and frame are not damaged
- Children under six years old should not be allowed to use the trampoline
- Ensure an adult is always around to supervise and do not leave children alone on a trampoline
- Allow one person at a time on a trampoline
- No flips or somersaults and don’t jump onto or off of the trampoline.
Having a safe backyard ensures you, your family and your guests are safe which means there’s less likelihood of an incident or accident to occur where you could be held personally liable. As a host, you must ensure your property is safe in terms of the physical conditions, the guests invited and the activities that take place. In other words, as a host you have a duty of care towards guests you invite to your home.
We hope you found these tips helpful. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your backyard. For any insurance questions, be sure to contact your BrokerLink broker today.