8 Steps to a Safer Backyard
1. Be an inspector. Take a close look at balconies, porches, railings and outdoor furniture to see if there are any missing or rusted nails or fasteners. Also check for splinters, buckled or loose boards, and uneven stair treads and discolored areas. Make sure there are no cracks or gaps in your pathways that could trigger a fall.
2. Say so long to slick surfaces. Keep your driveways, walkways and garden paths clear of leaves, branches and other debris. After a heavy rainfall, be attentive to puddles and slick surfaces, and wear shoes or boots with good treads.
3. Give your lawn a once-over. One misstep on uneven surfaces and you could lose your balance. Ask a friend or family member to walk around your yard with you to check for hazards such as roots, fallen branches, rocks or bumpy ground. They may see something that you missed.
4. Don't try to be Mr. or Ms. Fix-It. If your mower or weed whacker breaks, take it to a professional repair shop. Throw away broken garden tools.
5. Keep it handy. If you have to root around the shed or garden, or reach up on high shelves, accidents are more likely to happen. So place within easy reach the yard equipment that you use most frequently.
6. Follow this step. We are at the highest risk of ladder injuries during fall months when we clean gutters, hang outdoor lights or do yard maintenance, according to a study by the Oregon Health & Science University Trauma Program. Climb a ladder only when someone strong can be there to spot you. If you're at all wary about climbing, don't do it.
7. Get slip-resistant. Add abrasive strips or rubber stair treads, and use deck paint that has a rough texture.
8. Install outdoor lights. Put in the ones that are motion-sensitive. Don't neglect the porch, pathway, driveway and backyard.
7 Spring Chores to Take Care of
1. Dryer. Clean the exhaust duct and space under the dryer, and get rid of all dust and lint.
2. Gutters. Clean your gutters, drains and downspouts so that heavy spring rains can flow freely off your roof.
3. Furnace. Replace the air filter regularly. A dirty one can restrict airflow and in turn overwork the furnace, increasing the risk of a carbon monoxide leak.
4. Trees. Prune dead branches so they don't snap off during fierce seasonal winds.
5. Fireplace. Examine the exterior of the chimney for any signs of damage. Have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.
6. Sump pump. If you have one in your basement, test it to be sure it's clean and operable and that the outflow is draining properly.
7. Battery check. Make sure all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have new batteries.