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How to organize your backyard safely

Lori Wilson is a SheKnows.com Home & Living columnist, as well as a freelance writer in Los Angeles, who after a lifetime of enduring harsh Michigan winters, relishes the warmth year round.

Avoid these outdoor dangers

The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, and you can't wait to enjoy your backyard -- but unexpected dangers lurk. To safeguard your family and friends when outdoors, here are a few things to look out for.

Backyard

 safe grilling

We all love summertime barbecues, but according to the National Fire Protection Association, charcoal grills are the leading cause of barbecue fires. To prevent your outdoor gathering from going up in smoke, leave at least 10 feet between the grill and deck, the side of your house and any overhanging plants. Once the charcoals cool off, starting a fire still remains a risk. After the barbecue, soak the coals with cold water and place them in a noncombustible metal can on a nonflammable surface, like your driveway.

 choose your plants wisely

Enjoying nature is a benefit of summer, but many people are often left with nasty rashes, stomachaches or even face fatal repercussions after plant interaction. When planning your summer garden and landscaping, do your research and choose vegetation that isn't dangerous.

 rid your yard of pests

Mosquitoes and bugs are often a nuisance during warmer months and tend to swarm around pools of old water. Keep your yard free of such pests and watch out for water that may collect in places such as buckets, pool covers and even soda bottle caps. Keep the water in your birdbaths and fountains fresh by periodically changing them.

Overuse or incorrect application of pesticides can waste money and cause flu-like symptoms. Instead of fumigating, try attracting birds and insects that eat the bugs plaguing your environment. For instance, install a birdhouse designed for bluebirds, who feed on insects. Incorporate plants that attract predatory insects that destroy the bugs harming your garden. Also, growing plants that are native to your region and less susceptible to infestation will rid your surroundings of irritating bugs.

 keep 'em out of your pool

To help prohibit kids and pets from entering your pool, drowning or possibly harming themselves, install a four-sided fence at least 5 feet high with a self-latching gate. Also remember to place patio furniture far enough away so it can't be used as a way to help someone jump over your fence.

 deck safety

Waterproofing your deck every two or three years will help prevent moisture from seeping in and warping the wood, thereby eliminating the risk of slips and falls. Inspect your deck every spring, paying special attention to splits and cracks. If you can push a screwdriver a quarter or halfway into the wood, it should be replaced.

 a look at ladders

Once outdoors, you typically find all kinds of projects you need to work on, many of which involve using a ladder. To prevent the risk of falling, use a ladder that is long enough for the job you are performing. Make sure you can do your repairs by standing on the fourth step from the top. Don't overreach, and pull the base out by a foot for every 4 feet the ladder extends up toward the house. If you are using a metal ladder and the weather starts to take a turn for the worse, get off! You don't want to risk getting struck by lightning.

 

More safety tips

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