- Fences: Fences are great for both privacy and safety, but can pose hazards if not in good repair. Check for protruding nails, wire or wood splinters. Make sure that the fencing is intact—a small child and/or pets can squeeze through small openings. Leaning or flimsy fencing materials could fall on a child or pet.
- Pools: For pool safety, pools should always be accessible only through a child- and pet-proof, gated fence, and children and pets should never be around pools without supervision. The US Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) has a section devoted to pool safety on their website. Pool covers should be in place when the pool is not in use to prevent pets or wildlife from falling in.
- Ponds: Ponds have some different safety concerns than swimming pools. Not usually fenced, ponds can be more dangerous due to accessibility. There are pond safety covers on the market that will provide peace of mind, but you might want to enclose the area for added protection.
- Sheds and Outbuildings: Kids and pets love to explore small buildings like sheds. This is especially dangerous if lawn and garden chemicals are stored inside. Make sure to lock and secure any doors and windows.
Wildlife and Pests
- Wild Animals: Check your yard for places that animals may have burrowed or made nests. Make sure pet food containers, birdseed and garbage cans are secured to keep animals from coming to your yard looking for food. For their safety, pets should be prevented from ever interacting with wild animals. When threatened, raccoons and other animals can kill your cat or dog.
- Insect Pests: Look for wasp and bee’s nests, large anthills and other evidence of insect infestation. Before using any type of insect-killing spray or compound, read the directions carefully. Most have some level of toxicity to children and/or pets.
- Poisonous Plants: What might look like beautiful foliage or flowers can be poisonous if consumed by kids or pets. Plants common to your area can be checked on the US Department of Agriculture poisonous plant lists. The ASPCA also lists plants that are toxic to cats and dogs.
- Children and pets are naturally curious and don’t have much impulse control. Check your backyard for the electrical and/or gas lines. Make sure electric lines are away from trees and not within easy reach. Put up barriers around the buried lines coming into your house to keep pets and kids from digging in those areas. Here’s a resource on children’s safety around outdoor electricity: Teach Children Outdoor Electrical Safety.
- You want your family, including your furry companions, to enjoy their new backyard. By observing some safety guidelines, you’ll make wonderful new memories in your outdoor space!