Steps to take now to ensure a safe summer

Published 10:00pm Thursday, May 15, 2014

This week’s column can improve health by keeping you and your family safe. With warmer weather here, more folks are spending time outdoors, but did you know that even your own backyard can be a region for trouble? That’s right.
There could be dangers right under your nose, you might never have even considered. In fact, more than 200,000 children alone, visit hospital emergency rooms each year in the U.S., so let’s go over a few potential problems, and learn how to fix them.
1. Unsafe playgrounds. Play sets can pose a real hazard, with jagged edges and hot surfaces. To fix: Make sure all playground equipment is covered with shock-absorbing material, and mulch around play sets, at least 9-12 inches deep.
Make sure backyard play equipment has no dangling cords or ropes, as these could cause strangulation. Also, check slides, swings, and steps constantly during hot summer days to prevent burns. Actually the weather doesn’t even have to be hot to cause contact burns on play equipment.
One recorded incident occurred on a 74 Fahrenheit day and resulted in a child receiving severe second-degree burns from a plastic slide.
2. This next one’s obvious. An unfenced pool. According to the Home Safety Council, nearly one quarter of all drowning in the United States happen near home.
An unfenced pool can attract, and give easy access to neighborhood children and pets. Also, even though you might be a adult, or your kids might be older, it’s never a good idea to swim alone.
I can tell you as a WSI (water safety instructor) for the American Red Cross and a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., that I know of several certified lifeguards who actually drowned, not attempting a rescue, but because they got over confident, and were swimming alone. To fix: Make a rule that states, “NO ONE” is allowed to swim alone in your pool.
Install a four sided fence, whether you have an above ground or in ground pool.
Make sure the fence is at least 5 feet high, with a lock on its gate. Never place patio furniture close enough to the fence that it may be used to scale the structure.
3. Dangerous grill placement. A leading cause of BBQ fires is placement of grills next to combustibles like wooden deck railing, awnings, or low hanging tree branches.
To fix: Make sure your grill isn’t within 10 feet of your deck railing, hanging vegetation, or your house. Also, maintain your grill to make sure it is operating properly.
4. Weather- worn deck. Water can seep in and warp most decks that haven’t been water-proofed every 2-3 years. This increases the likely hood of falls.
To fix: Inspect your deck each year, for areas most susceptible to moister, like the “ledger board”, where the deck attaches to the house.
Also, check for cracks and splits. Another potential problem with decks, wooden play sets, and picnic tables is that some pressure treated lumber used contains arsenic. Manufactures once used “chromate copper arsenic” to preserve wood.
This can increase risk of sickness and cancer to kids, even though the use of arsenic was phased out by 2003.Be sure to seal such wood at least once a year with a penetrating wood sealer, and replace highly exposed areas like handrails, steps, and deck boards with non-arsenic alternatives.
4. Pesticide residue. Whether conventional or natural, pesticides can pose real hazards. These can make children and adults alike, ill.
To fix: Install bird houses and feeders to attract birds that feed on insects. You can even grow plants like parsley and sunflowers that attract predatory insects that don’t hurt other plants, but destroy insects that do.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at, or visit David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 27 years.
He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, the S.C state champion girl’s gymnastic team, and the Converse college equestrian team.
He served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps., lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught four semesters at USC-Union.
David was also a regular quest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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