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There have been many notable collapses in recent years. Those that are heavily reported, those that make news, are the ones that effect masses of people. There have been notable bridge, highway, tunnel, and mine collapses. The vast majority of us don’t even consider the most likely "collapse effecting us and our loved ones. In fact, according to the Home Safety Council, we underestimate almost all backyard injury risks.

Monday is Labor Day; you are probably having guests over and are planning to barbeque out on the patio, deck or balcony. You may be planning other backyard activities. The "collapse’ I was referring to, this Labor Day, is your backyard patio, deck or balcony. According to the Dallas News, over the past 15 years, more than 900 people have been injured and at least 20 killed by some type of patio, deck or balcony collapse in the USA. Last year, I noticed that the upstairs balcony off of my bedroom looked worn; sections of wood looked rotten and soft, paint was peeling. Since we rarely use the balcony, I thought little of it until, one day, our window washer jumped off of his ladder, onto and through the floor of the balcony. Luckily, no, miraculously, he was not hurt. Needless to say, I had the entire balcony replaced with hard plastic material and strudy support beams.

The article suggests that you check your deck or balcony for loose connections and supports, wobbly or loose stairs or railings, corroded metal hardware and nails, rotten or soft wood (your window washer will thank you, mine sure did!), cracked floors or posts. If your wooden deck, patio or balcony has any of these symptoms, repair or replace, immediately.

And, according to the Home Safety Council, a vast majority of families are somewhat clueless about backyard injury risks, in general. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the nonprofit Council revealed that only 3 percent of adults in the U.S. ranked backyard injury among their top home injury concerns.

Despite our lack of concern, serious injury risks exist in the backyard, from pools, barbeques, play structures, loose equipment, and many other potential hazards.

More than 80 percent of those who responded to the survey reported having a backyard, yet almost 40 percent have taken no measures to prevent backyard injuries. Only 24 percent carefully watch children using backyard play equipment and only 8 percent of those with a backyard pool report that they have constructed four-sided fence around the pool, with blocked direct access from the home.

To help adults identify the dangers present in the backyard and every area of their home, the Home Safety Council recently debuted an interactive, online resource where visitors are able to explore a virtual home to learn about the safety actions and products needed to prevent home injuries. www.mysafehome.org, designed to educate the public about at home safety, includes backyard and pool/spa areas and highlights the most common injury risks found in these areas of the home. The site offers simple, straightforward tips and checklists to help families enjoy their pools, playgrounds and grills safely.

Here are some of the Council’s safety tips, not just for summer or Labor Day, but year-round:

For Grilling Safety:

    • Stay by the grill and pay close attention the whole time food is cooking.

    • Designate the grilling area a "No Play Zone" and keep kids and pets well away until grill equipment is completely cool.

    • Before using, position your grill at least ten feet away from other objects, including the house and any shrubs or bushes.

    • Before using a gas grill, check the connection between the propane tank and the fuel line to be sure it is working properly and not leaking.

    • Never use a match to check for leaks. Instead, rub the hose line with a dishwashing liquid and water solution. If you see any bubbles or detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill again until the leak is fixed.

    • When lighting a charcoal grill, do it right the first time. Choose pre-treated charcoal or carefully follow directions on the charcoal starter fluid can. Once you have lit the charcoal, never add more lighter fluid as it may cause the can to explode. If the fire seems out, use paper or kindling to help a slow starting grill.

For Pool Safety:

    • Install fencing that surrounds the pool completely, blocking direct access from the house. The fencing should be at least 5 ft. high and have self-latching and self-locking gates.

    • Regardless of age or skill level, no one is "drown proof." Children must always be supervised while they in or near water by an adult who is paying close attention.

    • Learn and practice basic lifesaving techniques, including First Aid and CPR. Insist that anyone who cares for your children learn CPR.

    • Keep poolside rescue equipment close to the pool area at all times, and bring a cordless telephone outside while using the pool.

    • Entrapment underwater can be deadly. Install anti-entrapment drain covers.

    • Teach children that drains, grates and filters are not toys. Never stick fingers or toes in these openings and stay away from suction devices.

    • If a child is missing, check the pool area first.

For Playground Safety:

    • Closely supervise children when they are using playground equipment.

    • Cover areas under and around play equipment with soft materials such as hardwood chips, mulch, pea gravel and sand (materials should be nine to 12 inches deep and extend six feet from all sides of play equipment).

    • Beware of entrapment or entanglement hazards. A child’s head can be trapped in openings between three-and-a-half and nine inches wide. Remove strings and draw-cords from young children’s jackets to prevent strangulation.

To learn more about backyard summer safety, please visit MySafeHome.org. Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day. Please do all you can to keep your friends and loved ones safe.

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting to plaintiffs when necessities of life litigation funding is needed while personal injury litigation is pending. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Ken Levinson

    Thank you for your very informative article. For more help on preventing child injuries, please visit my child safety blog at: www.TheSafestLine.com

    Ken Levinson

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