Your backyard might be a fun place for the kids and the rest of the family. But is it safe?
Each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital ERs for playground-related injuries. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to have a safe summer on land, in the air or in the water.
Swing sets: Opt for one with seats made of something soft instead of wood or metal. Install the set on a level surface and consider setting it in concrete. Place energy-absorbent material like sand, rubber or mulch underneath the set. Periodically check to make sure no screws or bolts are uncapped, rusted or broken. On hot days, check the temperature of slides and swings to prevent burns.
Trampoline: Make sure your model has shock-absorbing pads that fully cover the frame, hooks and springs. Refrain from using a ladder that could give small children unsupervised access to the trampoline. Only allow one person on at a time and have a no-somersaults policy. Make sure you buy an add-on cage enclosure that keeps anyone from bouncing off. Replace the fabric and springs regularly.
Pool: Install fencing that’s at least five feet high and features self-locking, self-closing gates. Regularly check and repair the pool’s drain and suction covers to prevent accidental entrapment. Never let anyone swim alone, and make sure children are well supervised. Have a pool hook, plenty of life vests, a ring buoy with line and a phone close by. Seriously consider learning CPR and use a pool cover when the fun’s done. Ban head-first dives.
Tree houses: Choose a strong, sturdy tree that’s far away from any electrical wires. Refrain from placing the house any higher than 10 feet. Make sure the path up is a solid barrier wall that’s at least 38 inches tall and don’t hang any ropes or chains—they pose strangulation risks. Spread lots of mulch underneath the tree house. Each spring, check for any rotting or wear on the tree house and branches supporting it.
Wood surfaces: While cancer causing arsenic-based wood was phased out in 2003, your wood structures may contain it and other harmful chemicals. Stay safe by sealing decks every year with penetrating deck treatments. Refrain from pressure washing or using any deck washing treatments as they can turn wood toxic; instead, clean with disposable rags and soap and water. Err on the side of caution with picnic tables by covering them with a tablecloth.
An umbrella for extra protection
Even the most safety-minded among us could someday face a personal injury or liability lawsuit. That’s a scary prospect since payments for hospital bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and litigation could potentially wipe out your entire net worth and even your future earnings.
Fortunately, ERIE offers affordable Personal Catastrophe Liability (PCL) policies. Commonly called an umbrella policy, a PCL policy adds an extra $1 to $5 million to both your auto and your homeowners liability limits. A $1 million PCL policy typically offers the average person adequate protection for about $150 or $200 more per year. To learn more, contact your Erie Insurance agent.