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Advice For Backyard Safety

When kids are let loose in the back yard during the summer, it can sometimes escalate to more than fun and games. Kids can get in accidents and get hurt right at home.

While most people know that pools are a safety hazard for kids, there are lot more things to watch out for in your back yard, like barbecues and grills, lawn mowers, trampolines, bugs and even the sun. Denene Millner of Parenting magazine visits The Early Show to share more information.

  • POOL SAFETY: Drowning is the second largest accidental cause of death in children, and more drownings occur on July 4 than any other day.

    Leaving to answer the phone or doorbell is unacceptable. Drowning can occur in three minutes, and an adult's leaving to get the phone is a leading reason children drown.

    Don't be lulled into a false sense of security if your child is using water wings. They're toys, not true lifesaving devices.

    Be sure pools and spas are surrounded by a fence at least 4 feet high, with vertical pickets less than 4 inches apart or chain links no larger than 1 3/4 inches, so a child can't climb them.

    Be sure the fence has a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens outward, with a lock that's out of reach. Move any nearby furniture that could be used to climb over the fence.

    Even if your children have taken swimming lessons, they must still be supervised at all times while in the pool. Store a life preserver and a shepherd's hook (long enough to reach the middle of the pool) nearby.

    Since children can drown in just a few inches of water, empty a wading pool when not in use and turn it over, so it doesn't fill with rain.

    A toxic chemical doesn't have to be ingested to cause damage. If chlorine is inhaled or comes into contact with the eyes, nose, mouth, or skin, it can cause irritation and burning.

    Never use pool chemicals when your child is around.

    Always check labels when using to see how long to wait before your child can safely return to the yard or pool.

    Store any hazardous material in its original container in a cabinet that locks, or on a high shelf.


    Watch the barbecue. You don't want kids near a hot grill; ideally one adult should do the cooking while the other watches the children.

    To prevent burns, see that children stay at least three to four feet away from the barbecue and never touch the grill, which stays hot long after food is cooked. Check for embers blown from the grill; they could scorch little bare feet.

    Store charcoal lighter fluid out of the reach of children.

    Teach kids age 3 and up to avoid the grill as they would a stove.


    The best place for children under 12 when you're using a lawn mower or other motorized equipment is indoors. Some tools are so noisy you can't tell if a child is nearby.

    Even hand-powered ones can kick up sharp rocks, sticks, and small toys that could strike eyes or skin, and blades can chop fingers or toes. Clear the area of debris before mowing.

    Never take a child as a passenger on a ride-on mower - he could slip and fall under the rotating blades.

    Store lawn-mower gas out of reach.

  • TRAMPOLINE SAFETY: Trampolines are making a comeback, springing up at kids' parties, backyards, and gyms around the country. And the rate of injuries among children using the equipment has jumped, too. Most injuries consist of sprains, strains, and fractures to legs, feet, arms, and hands. Many are caused by collisions or by kids accidentally or intentionally bouncing off the trampoline, something only trained pros should do.

    Some tips for safe jumping:

    Kids 6 and younger should only use a full-size trampoline in an instructive class. They don't yet have the necessary physical coordination and are too young to understand the dangers of jumping the wrong way.

    Children 7 and up should always be supervised by an adult, and only one child should use a trampoline at a time.

    Kids should be told never to jump off and not to attempt somersaults, flips, or other advanced moves.

    Protective floor padding should surround the equipment, in case a child does fall off.

  • BUG BITE SAFETY: With cases of West Nile virus having doubled in the past year, mosquito bite prevention is a huge priority for parents.

    Use bug repellents containing DEET to ward off mosquitoes, but keep excess DEET absorption down by applying it only as frequently as recommended.

    Skip combo sunscreen-DEET products. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied often; DEET doesn't.

    To protect children from Lyme disease, inspect them head to toe for ticks after they have been playing outside, even if you aren't in a heavily wooded area.


    Never allow kids to go outside without sunscreen.

    Consider the new "sun protective swimwear" on the market. Unlike regular swimwear, these suits have the clothing equivalent of SPF 50 (it's called UPF, or Ultraviolet Protective Factor), provide the same amount of protection wet and dry, and often do a better job of covering up arms and legs.

    A cheaper alternative to the protective clothing: Toss a packet of Rit Sun Guard into the laundry for a UPF 30 rating that lasts up to 20 washes ($3, available in drugstores).

    When it comes to sunscreen, be generous! Apply an amount that's more than half the size of a golf ball (SPF 15 or higher).

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