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Porches, patios, and backyards can truly be beautiful things, especially during warmer months. Unfortunately, household hazards are a reality – and a backyard is no exception.

Here are the areas you should be aware of to help keep you and your family safe.

Toxic plants

More than 68,000 people a year are poisoned by plants, reports the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Most end up with nothing worse than an upset stomach or an itchy skin rash. However, some plants can be fatal, especially to pets and small children.

Watch what you use to plant near your home: Oleander, datura (also called jimson weed), and castor bean are all dangerous if swallowed.

Doggie Doo

Contrary to popular belief, dog poop cannot be used as fertilizer. Also, it contains tons of dangerous bacteria, viruses, parasites worms that can be very dangerous to humans – some of which can be passed just from skin-to-skin contact.

So be sure to pick up that poo and wash your hands carefully after throwing it away.


If your ladder isn’t long enough, you may find yourself overreaching. This increases your chances of what? That’s right – falling.

According to the Home Safety Council, use a ladder (at least 4 feet) that lets you work while standing four steps from the top. Your maximum reach should be no more than 4 feet above the ladder. Also, for added stability, follow the 4-to-1 rule: For every 4 feet the ladder extends up the house, bring the base out by a foot.

Bugs & Insects

A tick’s bite could leave you with Lyme’s disease, which can lead to months of exhaustion, and, untreated, can cause other problems, including arthritis, meningitis, or irregular heartbeat.

To avoid this, check for ticks regularly. Look all over for the small little tick, which may be raised on your skin, and keep an eye out for the bull’s eye rash that may signal the start of the infection. If you’re experiencing symptoms, including the rash or exhaustion, or if you’ve removed a tick from your skin, talk to your doctor.

Also, if you’re allergic to bees, you should have an Epi-Pen. You can also avoid wearing brightly colored clothes and perfume, and try not to eat or drink sweets that may attract the insects

Swimming pools

Drowning is a real threat, especially for young children. However, you can also be poisoned by the chemicals in it. Nearly 5,000 people were sent to the emergency room last year due to chemical poisoning from over-treated pools, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Why? Pool chemicals can lead to chronic overexposure to certain toxins, especially in hot tubs, where the water is vaporized and inhaled. Hot tubs also open up your pores, allowing chemicals to seep directly into your body.

To stay safer, follow CDC recommendations for treating your pool, or use an ionization system to clean the pool while avoiding most chemicals.


Pesticides and other chemicals in grass can rub into your skin (and your children’s, and your pets’). It can also contaminate your water supply.

The problem? Exposure to pesticides has been linked to increased cancer, as well as the disruption of hormones that could cause thyroid problems or infertility.

The solution? Investigate pesticide-alternatives, for a healthy lawn and a healthy you.


Decks that aren’t regularly water-proofed can lead to warped wood and an increased risk of falls.

Inspect your deck every spring, and look for splits and cracks. Also, pay extra attention to the ledger board, which is the place where the deck attaches to the house — it can often be very susceptible to water damage. Inspect your deck for splits and cracks, as these are signs that moisture has gotten in.


Even the smallest amount of standing water can make mosquitoes feel welcome. When this happens, say hello to itchy bites—and even infections such as West Nile virus. Regularly check any water containers in your backyard, including buckets and plastic covers, and dump any water you find in there. Also change the water in birdbaths and fountains regularly.


Grills can be fire hazards in a number of ways:

Not disposing of warm coals safely. Soak warm coals in cold water, and then place them in a noncombustible metal can for safe disposal.

Choosing the wrong spot to set your grill. According to the National Fire Protection Association, charcoal grills next to combustibles, such as wooden decks, the side of your house, plants and tree branches, are leading causes of BBQ fires.

Scattering ash residue on grass. Dispose of grill-related trash immediately in appropriate, noncombustible containers.