Archive for Thursday, June 1, 2006

Remove these hidden dangers from your yard

June 1, 2006


Most gardeners enjoy companionship while they toil in the warm summer sun, and encouraging young children to help is a great way to promote outdoor physical activity and cultivate a budding green thumb. However, the garden is full of hidden dangers - accidents waiting to happen.

Take a few moments to spot the dangers in your landscape before they turn a weekend joy into lifelong tragedy.

¢ Know which plants in your garden are poisonous and which are safe to touch. The bright red berries of yews are tempting to eat but deadly. Sharp thorns on roses, barberry bushes and locust trees can cut deep and be hard to remove if they are lodged under the skin. Teach toddlers: "leaves of three, let it be," and keep them far away from poison ivy plants.

¢ Keep an eye on kids when they are playing with animals. Friendly dogs or cats can snap or scratch if poked or pulled the wrong way. Although wildlife is fun to watch and tempting to touch, encourage adult supervision when inspecting snakes, baby bunnies and other creatures found in nature.

¢ Never leave sharp garden tools or power equipment lying around unattended. Shovels, rakes, hoes and pruning shears are sharp and heavy, and if they fall on bare feet or hands, stitches may be required. Likewise, unplug power equipment such as chain saws, mowers and string trimmers - even if you're just running in to grab a quick drink.

¢ Keep pesticides, fertilizers and other dangerous materials out of reach or behind locked doors. Some of the older insecticides require drinking only a teaspoon to cause death in 40-pound children. Likewise, keep kids and pets out of areas that have been treated. Although most of the labels will say it is safe to re-enter after the product has dried, I encourage longer periods than that - in fact, the longer the better.

¢ Inspect the yard and surrounding area weekly for hidden insect nests. Ground-nesting yellow jackets and bumble bees, paper wasps and hornets can create nests that are hard to find until it is too late. Every year, toddlers wander out into uncharted areas and are attacked by wingers with stingers trying to defend their nests.

¢ Make a thorough pass through the yard before mowing. Look for hidden objects such as sticks, rocks and matchbox cars that could become airborne if hit by a mower. Mower blades can make as many as 4,000 revolutions per minute and throw debris as fast as 200 mph. Keep kids and pets inside until all mowing is complete.

¢ Finally, use sun screen and bug repellents. Protect young skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Likewise, keep mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers from becoming an itchy pain by using products that contain DEET. Be sure to read and follow all label directions and thoroughly wash skin and clothes that have been treated with the product when coming back inside for the night.


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