Backyards and patios are personal oases where families can relax and enjoy the outdoors. Make sure that yours are safe for everyone.
Place the barbecue grill on a sturdy surface, away from the house, shrubs, branches, and other flammable objects.
To avoid the noxious fumes and dangers associated with Lighter fluid, use a charcoal chimney available at most hardware stores-to ignite your coals. Never spray Lighter fluid on a lit fire, even
if the fire appears to have gone out.
Keep a continuous watch on the barbecue-grill fire, and make sure children and pets remain at a safe distance.
Don’t wear loose clothing that can catch fire. To keep your fingers from getting burned, use Long-handled tools and a flame-resistant fireplace mitt.
Keep buckets of sand or dirt beside the grill, especially when barbecuing meat-fat dripping from the meat can cause flames to shoot up. If any flames become dangerously high, smother them with the sand or dirt, or use a fire extinguisher.
When you’re finished barbecuing, make sure the fire is completely extinguished; to be on the safe side, use both water and sand.
Don’t attempt to barbecue when it’s a windy gust of wind that can spread sparks and start a fire.
If you use a propane barbecue, check the gas orifices and air-mixing chambers before lighting.
These often become plugged with insects or debris, leading to a flare-up or an explosion.
GARDEN AND POWER TOOLS
A hoe or spade left lying about can easily cause an accident. Proper storage of tools not only makes them last longer but can also prevent injuries.
If there are children around, store garden knives and other hazardous tools and materials in a locked cabinet.
Otherwise, hang tools up whenever possible. For small tools, use a pegboard and hooks or a row of nails hammered into the wall. Use a barrel or sturdy hooks to store rakes and other large
tools. When hanging large objects, make sure the nail is fastened securely into a stud, not just drywall. Turn any pointed or sharp objects, such as pitchforks, toward the wall. Make sure anything hanging on the wall is out of the line of traffic.
Before using a power tool, read the instructions carefully. Some tools come with several different blades; pick the right one for the task at hand, and check that it is properly attached.
Never refuel gas-powered equipment while the engine is hot. If the engine has been running, let it cool for at least 10 minutes before refueling.
Don’t use electric gardening tools-such as mowers, post- hole diggers, and hedge trimmers-after a rainfall or heavy dew. The wetness increases the chance of electrocution. For extra protection,
even on dry days, make sure your tools are plugged into an outdoor outlet equipped with a built-in circuit breaker; use a three-pronged extension cord designed for outdoor use.
Wear proper clothing and protective gear-sturdy shoes, gloves, long pants, and safety goggles when using power garden tools. Do not wear loose clothing that can get caught in spinning parts.
Also, use earplugs when working with noisy equipment.
Always use two hands when operating a hedge trimmer. Don’t trim where you can’t see if you hit metal or another object, a fragment could come flying back at you. If you are on a ladder, make sure it is steady and secure before turning on the trimmer.
When using a brush cutter or weed whip, wear heavy boots or shoes to protect your feet. Don’t operate the machine close to fences or other objects.
Before you mow the lawn, clear it of toys, rocks, garden hoses, sticks, and debris. Keep children and pets away from the mower while it is in use. (The same goes for power rototillers.)
Check the age of your power mower. Machines built after L982 have special safety features, such as a device that stops the blade when you release the mower control bar. Make sure that these safety features are working, and have the mower serviced on a regular basis.
When using a walk-behind mower, mow across slopes and keep all four wheels on the ground at all times. When using a riding mower, mow up and down slopes. Avoid starting, stopping, or turning your riding mower while you are on a slope.
The blades are not the only dangerous part of a mower; the muffler gets extremely hot. Stand directly behind the mower to avoid the line of fire from the discharge chute.
Try not to leave power mowers, tillers, and other such equipment outdoors. Rain and heat can damage motors, making them less safe to use. If you don’t have a tool shed or garage, cover the equipment with a waterproof tarpaulin or sturdy plastic.
PROPER USE OF PESTICIDES
No pesticide is 100 percent safe; even common products like 2,4-D, malathion, benomyl, and diazinon have been linked to a wide range of disorders, including an increased risk of cancer. Pesticides also kill beneficial insects and so, over time, may actually make your garden more susceptible to disease. If you must use pesticides in your yard or garden, take the following precautions to be as safe as possible.
Avoid overkill. Identify the pest or disease you want to eradicate, and then choose a product designed for that problem. Ask your local cooperative extension agent or a garden supply dealer for advice.
Read the label carefully before buying a pesticide. Make sure it bears the manufacturer’s phone number for emergency information.
Buy only the amount you think you’ll use in the next month or two. Long-term storage of pesticides is not recommended because even a well-sealed container can leak, and any evaporation alters the pesticide’s strength. If you must store a pesticide, put it in a locked cabinet in an area away from food, first-aid supplies, and cleansers. Leave it in the original container; for
extra protection against leakage, place the entire container inside an airtight plastic container. Save all instructions and warning labels.
When transporting a pesticide home from the store, put it in the trunk of your car and make sure that it can’t be knocked over if you should make a sudden stop.
Be certain that you use the proper formulation for diluting a concentrated pesticide.
Apply pesticides on a still day to lessen the chance that the wind will carry the chemicals elsewhere. Warn your neighbors that you will be using the chemical, and ask them to notify you any time they plan to use pesticides in their yards.
Remove toys, lawn furniture, and barbecue grills from the area, or carefully cover them
with plastic. Also cover pools or ponds, especially ponds that contain fish.
Keep children indoors or send them elsewhere to play when the pesticides are applied. Check the instructions to see when the area will be safe for humans and pets some products require only a
few hours, but others are not safe until after it rains.
Close the windows of your house or car if they are near the area to be treated. Avoid spraying near a well or other water supply.
Use only the amount needed, and apply it just to the area affected by the pest or disease. Make a special effort to avoid bird’s nests and flowering plants frequented by bees and other beneficial
insects or birds.
Wear rubber gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat while applying pesticides. Choose rubber or vinyl shoes rather than those made of canvas, Leather, or other permeable materials. Wearing a mask and goggles may also be a good idea. If possible, remove outer clothing and shoes before entering the house, and wash them separately from another laundry. An extra rinse cycle will remove any residue from the washer. Discard clothing that is doused with the chemical.
After applying the pesticide, thoroughly rinse the tools you’ve used. Then take a shower, carefully washing your skin and hair.
Be cautious when disposing of pesticides, even if the container is empty. The label will give you instructions, or you can contact your local health department. Some neighborhoods have a designated pick-up area for pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. Never pour leftover pesticides down the sink or toilet, and never burn pesticide containers or place them in an incinerator.
Understanding a Pesticide label
Most pesticide labels ore in small, dense type. Nevertheless, be sure to read the entire label; if necessary, use o magnifying glass. Pay particular attention to the following elements:
Ingredients list. Many products list only active ingredients, but the inert ingredients in some pesticides can also pose a hazard. Look for products that name both inert and active ingredients. Directions, This is where the approved uses of the product are given, including the pests it kills and the plants it should be used on. if you don’t find the pest or plant you’re concerned about look for a product that does list them.
Caution statements. Read this carefully before you buy or use a product. lt should explain the dangers of the product including its toxicity level. if you see the words donger or poison, the product is potentially lethal. Caution denotes a less toxic substance that is still capable of causing injury or death. A product labeled “warning” falls somewhere in between. The caution statement should also include specific hazards, such as the product’s effect on pets, beneficial
insects, and wildlife.
First-aid information. At the end of the caution statements, an antidote for poisoning and recommended first-aid procedures are given. However, some labels may contain outdated information. Check with your local poison control center to find out the currently recommended procedure in case of poisoning.
Disposal recommendations. The label should indicate how to dispose of unused pesticides, as well as recommendations for cleaning tools and clothing that come in contact with the pesticide.
EPA registration number. This indicates that the product is
approved for sale in the United States. Remember, it is against the law
to use the product for purposes not listed in the directions.
if you use a lawn service company, find out what chemicals lt uses. Also, ask if a chemical-free service is available-one based on natural pest- management methods.
Here are ways to reduce infestations of common garden pests and plant diseases.
Choose grass seed and plant varieties designed for your climate and altitude. These are more likely to produce healthy, disease- and pest-resistant plants.
Try companion planting. Certain herbs and flowers have a protective effect on vegetable plants. F or example, marigolds planted near carrots may protect them against carrot rust flies. Basil, coriander, thyme, and other kinds of herbs repel other pests.
Cut the grass by only one-third of its length each time. This inhibits weed growth and
promotes a healthier lawn. I Don’t overwater; many pests and plant diseases thrive on extra moisture. Let your lawn or garden become moderately dry before watering.
Test your soil every few years to find out what nutrients and minerals are lacking. The proper balance of soil nutrients renders lawns and gardens less susceptible to pests and diseases.
Make sure your vegetable seeds are virus-free. If you had a problem with any plants last year, buy new seeds for this year’s garden. Some seed companies offer disease-resistant strains; choose these whenever possible.
Plant a bit more in your vegetable garden than you think you’ll need. Then if bugs or animals get some of the vegetables, your garden won’t be a total loss.
Attract beneficial bugs and animals. Bees, ladybugs, fireflies, spiders, Lacewings, and
other insects prey on less desirable bugs. Frogs, toads, and garter snakes also eat bugs. Although releasing beneficial insects into a garden is rarely effective, you can encourage the bugs that are already there by not using pesticides.
If destructive bugs become a problem, try sprinkling baking soda, garlic juice, hot pepper, or soapy water (use phosphate-free soap) in the area. These ingredients discourage many pests and are not harmful to plants or people.
Bugs avoid areas were others of their kind have died. Try collecting dead pests, mashing them with some water, and brushing the paste onto leaves to discourage other bugs from preying on
Make your own traps for slugs and earwigs with jar lids filled with stale beer; sink them into
the ground near your plants. T[ap whiteflies by smearing a board with sticky molasses.
To remove Japanese beetles from your plants, flick them into a wide-mouthed glass jar containing bleach, soapy water, or another household cleanser.
For problem areas, try an organic solution, such as microbial insecticides (Bacillus thuringiensis, or BT for example) and nematodes (microscopic worms). These products are available through garden stores and catalogs. BT is especially effective against cabbage-worms, and nematodes are recommended for cutworms.
Plant at the right time of year for the particular type of plant. A healthy start is the best defense for any growing thing.
DISCOURAGING ANIMAL RAIDERS
Deer, rabbits, raccoons, and other animals are notorious for ruining yard and garden plants. T?y these methods to keep them at bay.
Many animals are repelled by the smell of blood. Sprinkle dried blood, which is sold as a fertilizer in garden and farm stores, around the edge of your garden and around favorite plants.
To keep deer from munching on your shrubs, cover the plants with fine netting. Many garden stores carry barely visible dark-green netting that does not interfere with the
Enlist mock predators. A rubber king snake or black- snake deters rodents and rabbits, as does a life-size, plastic great horned owl.
Hinder, a product made from ammonia esters has an odor that discourages deer, rabbits, and raccoons from eating plants. Spray it on new plants before the animals acquire a taste for them. The product, available in most garden stores, is non-toxic and safe for plants and pets.
To keep chipmunks and squirrels from raiding your tulip or hyacinth bulbs, try planting cloves of garlic in the same hole as the bulbs. Or plant daffodils, which are repellent to animals, nearby. If these measures fail, cover the bulb garden with chicken wire; the mesh allows the plant shoots to
grow but prevents animals from digging up the bulbs.