A recent Harris poll found that 82 percent of American families with children at home have a summer staycation planned this year. With a tight economy, families are turning to their backyard as a less expensive alternative to summer vacation hot spots.
Without taking proper safeguards, including reviewing and updating insurance policies for added attractions, people could end up costing themselves more money in the long run. Travelers has compiled Five Backyard Summer Safety Tips for families looking to turn their backyards into a staycation hot spot.
Five Backyard Summer Safety Tips
1. The Pool
The Hazard: A backyard full of young children and adults looking for some relief from the hot sun. Between the adults relaxing in pool floats and children working on their cannonball, there is room for disaster to occur. As the sun becomes stronger and the pool becomes more crowded, the potential for risk grows. In fact, every year about 43,000 people are injured in and around swimming pools and more than 600 people drown in home or public pools†.
The Tips: Before your houseguests work on their diving, make sure they know how to swim. All new swimmers should be accompanied by an individual familiar with water lifesaving skills and don’t let anyone swim alone. Make sure there is adequate lifesaving equipment in the pool area, including throwing rope with lifesaving rings, a reaching pole or rescue hook. While the food is coming off the grill and the drinks are being refreshed, be sure to check the pool area regularly for glass bottles, toys or other potential accident hazards. Everyone loves listening to some tunes by the water but keep CD players, radios and other electrical devices away from pools or wet surfaces to avoid electrical issues.
2. The Grill
The Hazard: Your party guests are hungry and looking to refuel after a pickup basketball game in the driveway. Throwing some burgers and hot dogs on the grill during a party is what summer is all about, but barbecuing can be dangerous, even deadly, if you are not careful. Americans enjoy more than three billion barbecues each year and need to be aware of the dangers associated with grills†.
The Tips: As the cook you want to be around your guests, but remember that barbecue grills should be kept on a level surface away from the house, garage, landscaping, and most of all, children. Although it may be hot out, protect yourself by wearing a heavy apron and an oven mitt that fits high up over your forearm. A long day of grilling can be tiring, but take the time to soak the coals with water before you put them in the trash. Always remember that grills remain hot long after you are through barbecuing.
The Hazard: You want to make your backyard a more fun place for your children and their friends by adding toys like trampolines. These trampolines can be fun for kids but also can be extremely dangerous. In 2010 alone, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that there were over 92,000 hospital emergency room injuries associated with trampolines‡.
The Tips: Although your kids may want to play with all their friends on the trampoline, limit the number of people allowed on at a time. The trampoline should also not be used without knowledgeable adult supervision, and a set of rules should be established before allowing guests to use the trampoline. You may also reduce your risk by installing additional safety nets and other accessories.
4. Play Sets
The Hazard: Swing sets are a great addition to any backyard and enjoyed by children of all ages, however they can become dangerous if they are not maintained. Normal wear and tear can cause these play sets to become unsafe and in need of replacement.
The Tips: The winter can cause damage to outdoor structures and swing sets should be checked regularly for sturdiness. Over the years bolts can become rusty and may need to be replaced. Wooden structures can rot and should be reinforced if necessary. Young children should be supervised when playing on swing sets and should not be left alone. The play sets should be on level ground and should be placed on woodchips to prevent injuries.
5. Fire Pits
The Hazard: Summer nights are the perfect time for making s'mores in the backyard fire pit. Fire pits can quickly get out of control and can cause major damage. These fires can also be dangerous as young children often get too close to the flames.
The Tips: Although your kids may beg to light a fire with their friends, never allow them to start a fire alone, and there should be adult supervision at all times. Even if you are called away from the fire, always have someone keep an eye on the flames to ensure the fire is maintained. At the end of the night, make sure the fire is completely out by using sand to extinguish.
 Source: Harris Poll “Harris Poll Finds People Planning More Staycations” May 30, 2012
† Source: Insurance Information Institute; www.iii.org
‡ Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission “CPSC Safety Alert” 2010