You have a fence around your pool, you’re not a lighter fluid fiend, and you generally steer clear of planting anything known to be poisonous. So you have nothing to worry about, right? Actually, there are a few outdoor dangers you may not be aware of. Here are eight of the most common—and all are easily remedied:
1. Dangerous Grill Placement
Is your grill right next to the edge of your deck? You may want to move it. A charcoal grill next to combustibles (say, a wooden deck rail or low-hanging tree branches) is a leading cause of BBQ fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Easy Fix: Always make sure to leave a 10-foot clearing between your grill and deck rails, the side of the house, and overhanging plants.
2. 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.
Easy Fix: Do your homework before choosing backyard vegetation. A few common plants require caution: Oleander, datura (also called jimson weed), and castor bean are all dangerous if swallowed.
3. Tiny Pools of Water
Even the smallest amount of standing water can give mosquitoes a hospitable place to multiply. This raises your risk of annoying bites—and even infections such as West Nile virus.
Easy Fix: Do a weekly check of buckets and plastic covers and dump any water to keep pests away. Also change the water in birdbaths and fountains.
4. Not-Quite-Extinguished Charcoal
Tossing still-warm coals can spark a fire. Charcoal may feel cool to the touch, but if you throw away coals while the insides are hot, you risk starting a fire.
Easy Fix: When you’ve finished grilling dinner, soak coals with cold water and then place them in a noncombustible metal can for safe disposal. Keep the can on a nonflammable surface, such as the driveway or a cement patio.
5. Unfenced Pool