Be aware of summer hazards to your home

Reduce backyard risks

After the long winter, it’s time to get out into the backyard and enjoy the pleasures of summer. For many, that means firing up the barbecue, getting the lawnmower out and taking a dip in the pool. Make your summer months tranquil and worry-free by taking steps to ensure the safety of these activities.

Remember, your insurance covers you for damages to your home, and liability insurance coverage is available if someone is injured (subject to the restrictions and limitations set out in the policy). But preventing accidents is the best way to avoid distress – and insurance claims.

Propane barbecue safety

Propane is an efficient and popular source of fuel for most outdoor grills, but if used improperly, it can be very dangerous. Follow these tips for the proper use of your propane barbecue.

Storage. Keep the cylinder upright at all times to prevent leakage. Store propane cylinders outdoors only.

Maintenance. Keep burners and the burner throat (where the propane enters the burner) free of dust and cobwebs. Soap test all hoses and joints. To do this, leave the barbecue valve off and the cylinder valve on. Spread a solution of dish soap and water on all fittings and the hose. If bubbles appear and become larger or increase in number, this means you have a leak.

Use. Operate gas grills outdoors only. While not toxic, propane gas can cause suffocation in a confined space. Grilling in the garage with the door open is not safe enough. After each use, turn the cylinder valve off on the propane tank first, and then close the “ON/OFF” valve on the barbecue. This way, propane does not get trapped in the hose when the grill is not in use.

Swimming pool safety

A backyard swimming pool can provide hours of fun and recreation during the hot days of summer. But safety must always be a priority.

If you are thinking of installing a pool, consider the following:

  • Local safety standards and building codes. Contact your municipality and find out what standards and codes you must comply with. These typically require installing a fence of a certain type and height as well as locks, decks and pool safety equipment.
  • Insurance. Let your insurance representative know that you have a pool, since it increases your liability risk. You may be advised to purchase additional liability insurance. If the pool is an expensive one, you should also make sure to have enough coverage to enable you to replace it in case it is destroyed.

Limit access. Before filling your pool, you should make sure that it is not easily accessible. Follow these guidelines.

  • The fence around any pool, including an inflatable one, should have a self-closing and self-latching gate.
  • Other means of access to the pool, such as patio doors, should be locked.
  • A solid safety pool cover or a pool alarm provides additional protection.
  • Solar pool covers should not be used to prevent children from falling into pools. If they fall onto them, they can become entangled and drown.
  • When your above-ground pool is not in use, remove or lock the steps and ladders leading to it.

Keep swimmers safe. Every year, children in Canada drown or are injured in swimming and wading pool incidents. Follow the following safety guidelines to prevent pool accidents.

  • Never leave a child unattended in a swimming or wading pool. Always have an adult present when children are in or around the pool.
  • Children under the age of three, or other children who can’t swim, should wear a life jacket or approved personal flotation device whenever they are in or around a pool.
  • Children should be kept away from pool filters and other mechanical devices as the suction force can injure them or prevent them from surfacing. Know how to shut these devices off.
  • Do not leave toys or floats in the pool when not in use: they can be very tempting to toddlers.
  • Keep lifesaving equipment and a first aid kit nearby and emergency phone numbers near the pool.
  • Never let anyone, child or adult, swim alone.

Proper storage of pool chemicals. Pool maintenance products can be dangerous, so store them with care.

  • Keep your pool maintenance products outside the home, in a dry, well-ventilated location away from heat sources.
  • If a container is damaged or leaks, dispose of the products safely.

Lawnmower safety

A power lawn mower can be a very dangerous tool if proper precautions are not taken.

Follow these steps to prevent injury:

Protect your children and pets. Young children and pets should be kept safely away from the area where a lawnmower is being used. They should not be allowed to be passengers on ride-on mowers. No child under 12 should operate any lawn mower. Ride-on models should be operated only by children 16 or older.

Prepare the area to be mowed. Before you start mowing, remove stones, toys, sticks and other debris from the lawn. This will prevent objects from projecting out of the mower and causing injury.

Wear proper clothing. Wear long pants and sturdy shoes when you are using your lawnmower. Never wear sandals. Eye and hearing protection are also recommended.

Take precautions when operating a mower. Always start and refuel your mower outdoors. Do it only when the motor is turned off and cool. Never allow a child to adjust blade settings. Never mow in reverse, unless absolutely necessary and then check behind you regularly. Wait for blades to completely stop rotating and remove the spark plug before removing debris from your mower.

Know your mower. Read the owner’s manual for operating and care instructions. It will guide you on proper fueling and use of your machine.