Backyard hazards: After-school safety strategies


Supervision and extra safety instruction can help minimize the danger of backyard hazards.


The start of school signals a seasonal change in routine for many families. Children may spend after-school hours at home with an adult or teen caregiver. Sometimes older children are trusted to be alone for an hour or two until a parent arrives. This change in routine offers a good opportunity to re-evaluate the safety and liability exposures right in your own backyard.

In some parts of the country, pool season doesn’t end with Labor Day. Ask yourself if you have implemented the appropriate safety measures to prevent a pool-related accident for your family, guests or an otherwise uninvited swimmer.

Prevent drowning and a potential negligence exposure for your family:

  • Install a fence or other barrier with a self-latching gate. The fence or barrier should be at least four feet high, but it may need to be higher depending on regulations in your area.
  • Secure, lock or remove the steps or ladder to an above-ground pool to prevent young children from climbing in.
  • Make sure a responsible adult is supervising swim time. If no one is available, secure the pool and declare it off limits.
  • Sign your own children up for swimming lessons, and know the capabilities of their friends who visit. More safety information is available from the American Red Cross.

Another popular backyard gathering place for children is the trampoline. Some insurance companies decline to write insurance policies for properties where trampolines are present. If you have a trampoline, avoid injury or a costly emergency for your own children or their neighborhood friends:

  • Make your children aware that the trampoline is to be used only when a responsible adult is present to supervise.
  • Equip your trampoline with safety netting and protective padding.
  • Ensure that nothing has been placed under the trampoline.
  • Position the trampoline in a clear space, avoiding trees or wires.
  • Allow only one person at a time to jump on the trampoline.
  • Mount and dismount the trampoline correctly, not by jumping onto or off of another surface. More safety information is available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Your local independent insurance agent can help you evaluate your own situation so that you avoid the personal liability exposures associated with your backyard.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.

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