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Pelham - Windham News

10 Home Improvement - May 7, 2010

Practice summer safety in your own backyard

If you don’t have the extra time or cash to take a summer trip, fun for you and your family can be as close as your own back- yard.

“Just make sure you play it

safe,” says Charles Valinotti, senior vice president with QBE Regional, which specializes in property and casualty insurance


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Before After

through subsidiaries General Ca- sualty, Unigard, Farmers Union Insurance and QBE Agri. He rec- ommends that before summer is in full swing, you make sure your backyard is ready for the season’s get-togethers and activities.

Hit the deck

The U.S. Product Safety Com- mission says deck collapse is one of the most serious recreational safety threats, caused by shoddy construction or poor mainte- nance. Valinotti says you should review local codes to make sure your deck’s railings and spindle widths are in compliance. “If you see a loose step or handrail, fix it,” Valinotti says. “Otherwise, it’s an accident just waiting to hap- pen.” So before you host that first deck party: * Do a deck check – Make sure the deck is secured to your home by heavy-duty steel bolts specially designed to secure wooden structures. If your deck

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is simply nailed or screwed on, it could pull away from the house. * Inspect the wood – Does

your deck’s wood need to be treated and sealed? This helps prevent dry rot, wood splintering and mishaps. Valinotti notes one QBE customer fell through rot- ted steps while grasping a shaky handrail, causing $113,000 in injuries.

* Look at the lattice – If you’ve added lattice to your deck for privacy, make sure it’s sturdy enough to prevent a child – or adult – from falling through it.

Secure your yard

Is your yard all clear for sum- mer activities? * Work on play areas – Your

backyard swing set and other playground equipment should have plenty of shock-absorbing materials – such as wood chips or sand – underneath and on the perimeter. Replenish those mate- rials if they look skimpy.

* Keep tabs on cords – Don’t run electrical cords in areas where people congregate. “And never use an indoor extension cord for an outside job. It could cause electric shock or create a fire hazard,” Valinotti says. * De-clutter for safety – Don’t

leave toys, tools or lawn equip- ment in the yard.

Prep your grill

Gas grills continue to be

popular for preparing outdoor meals. To squelch the chance of fire and injuries: * Clean before you cook–

“Once a year you need to give your grill a good cleaning,” Valinotti says. “Frequently grill- ing meats like steak and chicken will cause a lot of grease build- up.” Disconnect the gas and lift out the grill parts layer by layer. Once you get down to the burn- ers, make sure you inspect them thoroughly. Completely clean the grill and grates with soapy water. * Inspect hoses – Check your

grill’s hoses for cracking, brittle- ness, holes and leaks. * Invest in extra protection–

Buy a grill pad or splatter mat to place under your grill. These natu- rally heat-resistant pads made of composite cement or plastic will catch grease that misses the drip pan and help prevent a flare-up.

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