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5 Ways to Make Your Yard
More Kid and Pet Friendly

By Jade Pulman

As the days get warmer, your kids and pets have a natural inclination to get outdoors and enjoy some time in the backyard. But if you don't take the right precautions, your yard can become a dangerous place thanks to things like stray garden tools, various lawn and garden chemicals, and other potential hazards. Restore your peace of mind by considering the following easy ways to make your yard more kid and pet friendly.

1. Check Your Fertilizer/Pesticide Ingredients

Certain fertilizers can have "hidden" ingredients like lead, mercury, and cadmium that can be potentially poisonous for kids and pets. Children exposed to harmful chemicals may experience an upset stomach, difficulty breathing, burning sensations in their eyes, skin rashes, or changes in alertness. Pets can have similar reactions. One way to minimize exposure risks is to opt for organic selections. Further minimize risks associated with yard chemicals by:

  • Keeping kids and pets away when applying yard chemicals
  • Not allowing kids or pets on the lawn until it's been about 24 hours after a good rain or hose soaking
  • Not letting kids or pets in enclosed areas like barns or storage sheds where manure, fertilizer, and other chemicals are stored if there isn't sufficient ventilation

2. Be Proactive About Yard-Related Problems

Your yard can become a safer place for kids and pets if you pay attention to signs of problems you should take care of ASAP. For instance, if you notice an increase in the amount of pests you are seeing in and around your yard, especially in a pest infested areas like Arizona, you might call on a pest control company to, at the very least, do a routine inspection to let you know if there's a problem. Also, be mindful of issues with spots that are excessively soggy since this may be a sign of a plumbing or drainage issue that could present certain hazards for kids and pets.

3. Don't Leave Yard Equipment/Tools Unattended

All it takes is one moment for a curious child or pet to get seriously injured. For times when you are interrupted while you have power equipment and/or sharp tools out, either ask someone to stay outside until you get back or take a sec to call your kids and pets into the house for a minute until you can devote your full attention to what you need to do outside.

4. Be Careful with Your Storage Habits

Cans of gasoline and any chemicals and products you normally use for lawn or garden care should be stored high enough so that this stuff is out of reach of both kids and pets. Since smaller pets may be good climbers, make sure containers are tightly sealed in case Fido accidentally knocks something over. Since pets can't vocalize symptoms like children can, be especially mindful of signs of pet poisoning that may include vomiting and/or severe diarrhea or a loss of balance and coordination.

5. Supervise Older Kids Using Lawn Mowers

Older kids are more likely to want to do yard work if equipment like a riding mower is involved. However, lawn mower injuries that may include cuts, burns, eye damage, and lost fingers and toes send 13 kids to emergency rooms each day in the U.S. If older kids will be using a mower, be sure to:

  • Make sure they are at least 16 or older when using a riding mower
  • Tell them to wait for the blades to stop rotating to clean out clippings
  • Supervise them the entire time
  • Never let them pull the mower in reverse or backwards

If you have parts of your yard that are fenced off for kids and pets, do routine checks, especially as the seasons change or after storms, to make sure such structures are still secure and safe. Also, if you have kids with allergies, it's best to keep them inside when you plan to cut the grass. Pets should also be placed in a secure place so they don't wander around while mowing is going on. The more proactive you are with lawn and yard safety, the most likely it is that you and your family and pets will be able to enjoy time spent outdoors.

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