Spring is here and the days are getting warmer. Your family will be spending more time outdoors, enjoying the backyard deck. In the summer, a deck is a great place for family and friends to relax in the sun and cook on the grill. Spring is the perfect season to tackle some easy improvements. Here are a few tips to make your deck safe for children and pets.
Your Deck From a Child’s Perspective
Learn about how a deck should be safeguarded for children and pets. Inspect the deck from a child’s (or pet’s) perspective. Kneeling down to see the deck environment from this vantage point allows you to find hazards you might otherwise overlook. When trying to make a deck safer, consider the following:
• Gaps or cracks where hands and paws may get stuck easily
• Spaces between the railing where small children and animals could fit through and fall
• Rough surfaces that may hurt a crawling toddler’s knees or palms or an animal’s paw
• Sharp edges and splinters that would cause scrapes and cuts
• Exposed nails, or other fasteners, that need replacement
Choose Non-Toxic Plants to Make Your Deck Safe for Children and Pets
Some of the most common plants are unsafe for children and pets. Check articles online to learn about non-toxic options for the deck. Some popular plants cause rashes, vomiting, seizures, and difficulty in swallowing. These should be kept out of the reach of kids and pets and include lilies, oleander, tulips, azaleas, ivy, and chrysanthemum.
Non-toxic options that help to make your outdoor living spaces safer include:
• Herbs, including dill, parsley, sage, thyme, and basil and rosemary
• Magnolia bushes
• Coral bells
Make Your Deck Safe When Cooking
If you enjoy grilling outdoors, choose an area for the grill to keep it away from children and pets. Teach kids to keep at least three feet away from the grill and they should learn that grilling utensils are not toys. When cooking on the grill, have another adult present to keep an eye on kids and pets.
Install Gates and Railings
Install railings close together to prevent a child or pet from falling through. The rails should also be sturdy enough to support the weight of an adult. Use paints and sealants that are non-toxic if you have animals that may chew the decking components.
Making a deck safe also means finding a gate that is weatherproof and rust-proof. Metal railings and gates, over time, may begin to rust and a child or pet might consume these particles. The gate should be designed in such a way that children cannot use it to climb over the railings. When shopping for a gate, look for a rust-proof material with a powder-coat finish and a childproof latch.
Direct sunlight on a deck means the area will be hot. Pets who are left out for long periods of time may experience burned paws and develop symptoms of heatstroke. Children often walk around on their bare feet. Unshaded areas can cause discomfort and burns. Install a shade sail above the deck to provide some relief from the sun. You might use a mobile umbrella that has a sturdy foundation but can be easily moved throughout the day.