Keeping your garden safe; prepare for summer
With the British weather being temperamental at the best of times, we all love to finally get out in the garden when the conditions improve. The summer is almost here and, again, we are dusting off the BBQs, rolling out the garden furniture, and wondering where we put the sunscreen.
However, the British summer time is not without its dangers. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), around 300,000 people sustain injury every year due to garden-related incidents and were admitted to hospital as a result.
Moreover, the most common causes of these incidents involved such equipment as lawnmowers, flowerpots, garden forks and shovels.
As an injury can have serious ramifications – and potentially ruin the summer – we have put together some tips on how to avoid incidents and stay safe in your garden.
Weed killers can be dangerous to more than just weeds
Maintaining the perfect garden often requires a variety of chemical solutions. Many of them, such as weed killer, are hazardous to health if not used correctly. To prevent these substances from harming others, always keep them in a secure tool store, away from children. It’s best to keep these solutions in their original containers, ensure the label is easily readable and make sure the lid is always on when not in use.
In the event of an accident, always refer to the safety information contained on the label and seek medical advice if appropriate.
Avoiding garden pond-related accidents
We, as humans, have a natural fascination with water, but even shallow ponds can pose a danger to small children. According to RoSPA, this inquisitiveness led to almost 60 toddlers drowning in garden ponds over a ten year period. While this demonstrates that drownings in residential properties are very rare, parents should take measures to minimise the risk. Fortunately, most dangers can be averted by placing secure fencing around the pond or mesh across the water.
Ponds can also be hazardous for pets, particularly dogs, so safeguarding your pond in this way can also help keep your pooch safe and dry.
In addition, parents should be aware that ponds require supervision. The vast majority of pond-related accidents could have been avoided if the parents had kept a closer eye on their children.
DIY with care
With the Brits’ love of DIY this unfortunately means that DIY related accidents are pretty common in the UK, responsible for thousands of hospital admissions every year. So, while the summer is the perfect time to build that new shed or put up a fence, these tasks should always be approached cautiously.
RoSPA states that the two largest factors in DIY accidents are over-ambition and lack of knowledge. Therefore, one of the best ways to avoid harm is to accurately assess a task and determine if a qualified professional would be more suited to accomplish it.
If you’re confident the task doesn’t require expert assistance, then adequately plan it and ensure you have everything you need before proceeding. Furthermore, appropriate safety gear and gardenwear should be worn while carrying out the job.
If in doubt, use your common sense and seek professional advice from an expert.
Avoiding falls from height
Falls from height are a common cause of injury in the home; with ladders featuring in many of these incidents. Although some might not think twice about setting up a stepladder or balancing on a seat, these tasks can be dangerous if adequate precautions are not taken.
Tips for staying safe when using a ladder:
- Never overstretch or extend yourself
- Ensure it is balanced on firm, stable ground
- Make sure it and the rungs are clean, dry and in good condition
- Hold onto it with at least one hand
Staying safe around BBQs and bonfires
Everyone loves firing up a grill or toasting marshmallows over a naked flame, and BBQs are a key part of the British summer. However, every year, hundreds of people attend accident and emergency departments with burns and worse after related accidents. These occasions are meant to be fun and they still can be, providing you follow these precautions:
- Ensure the BBQ is placed on a stable surface
- Make sure it is strong, sturdy and in good condition. This is especially true if the BBQ has not been used for some time. If it’s rusty or has damaged parts, a new barbecue might be necessary.
- Do not place near flammable objects, such as under low hanging trees
- Refrain from lighting in an enclosed space and do not use accelerants, such as petrol, to light the BBQ
- Keep close supervision of children around BBQs and bonfires; consider setting boundaries around hot spots so children know how close they are allowed
Similar precautions should be taken when lighting bonfires, but additional care should be paid to animals and the items going into the incinerator. For example, piles of garden waste are often a refuge for wildlife so always check well for hedgehogs and other animals before lighting.
In a similar manner, some items can become volatile if placed in flames; such as certain bottles and these may explode when incinerated.
General advice for making your garden a safe space
There are many reasons why garden accidents occur. Sometimes, it can simply be a case of bad luck but the vast majority of these incidents can be easily prevented with adequate planning and foresight. Bearing this in mind, here are some additional tips for making your garden as safe as possible; without compromising on its appearance:
- Avoid trip hazards by ensuring paving stones are flat and trailing obstructions, such as hosepipes, are tidied away when not in use. In late evenings, additional lighting can help to illuminate your surroundings.
- Prevent tool-related accidents by tidying them away in a secure shed after use.
- Keep gas cylinders in secure storage structures.
Enjoy the summer!
Although some of these measures might seem excessive, these steps could prevent you or your loved ones from coming to harm. Although garden accidents are relatively uncommon, just remember that in the vast majority of cases, common sense and adequate planning will avert harm.
Enjoy a safe, stress-free summer with these tips and take full advantage of the wonderful outdoor space that your garden offers you. If you want more information about preventing garden accidents, consult the RoSPA website.