The first Monday in September is Labor Day, a federal holiday, and a time when we all grab our aprons and head outside to sizzle up some delicious barbecue and other treats. This year has been different, to say the least, with COVID-19 and the social distancing protocols we have all had to adhere to. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a safe backyard barbecue!
With Labor Day 2020 coming up, here are some tips to host a backyard barbecue safely:
- Spend the Day Outdoors
- Keep Your Party Small
- Handle Food & Drinks Properly
Spend the Day Outdoors
Plan to spend this upcoming national holiday outdoors. Even if someone at your party has the virus, the virus gets diluted outdoors and scatters in the wind, so your body will have a better time tackling the smaller quantities of virus that may be in the air. Here are a few ways to plan for your backyard barbecue:
- Sketch your outdoor arrangement on paper: Your outdoor space must allow guests to stay six feet apart. Will you be grilling at your party or will it primarily be conversation and drinks? It’s also important to consider where the shaded areas will be and identify optimal seating arrangements so people can enjoy themselves while also staying safe and socially distanced.
- Prep the bathroom: The bathroom is a high-risk area for contamination if it’s not prepared properly. To have a safer bathroom experience for all your guests, leave rolls of paper towels so people can turn the faucet on and off, open and close the door, etc. so that no high touch objects become a source for the infection.
- Share the grill, but encourage guests to BYOB: The grill’s high temperature will kill viruses, so it’s safe to share the grill with your guests. However, it is better to encourage guests to bring their own drinks and sides. Additionally, set up a separate table for visitors with individual bottles of hand sanitizer to avoid multiple people touching the same object and increase the chances of infection.
Keep Your Party Small
For your celebration, it’s important to keep the party small. Small is a relative term, and it really depends on the size of the outdoor space that you will be using. As long as guests can stay six feet apart, wear masks, and are socially distanced, then you should be able to host your barbecue safely. Check with your state’s policy as well on the maximum number of people that can be at a gathering.
Pro Tip: For the sake of protecting your loved ones, make a list of guests that are more prone to contracting COVID-19 based on age, health status, and comfort level.
Handle Food & Drinks Properly
Even if the guests are socially distanced, the virus can still be transmitted if two people touch the same item. To mitigate this risk, avoid shared dishes like chips, dips, and platters. Opt for disposable dishes and utensils. Additionally, be mindful of what foods are exposed to the heat for too long. Mayonnaise, for example, when exposed to warm weather for an extended period of time, can go bad and cause food illness. Since emergency rooms are packed these days, making a trip to the hospital for any reason could be difficult.
Labor Day Celebration Unlike Any Other
Although this year has been different, you can still celebrate Labor Day with your family and loved ones. Be sure to review the safety tips and structure your outdoor environment to keep everyone safe!
Get in touch with us for more Labor Day 2020 ideas.
There aren’t many better ways to beat the heat than diving into a swimming pool in your own backyard. But to no one’s surprise, an open body of water can present safety hazards if not handled correctly. This is particularly true for families with small children. For a truly safe and enjoyable pool experience, there are a few safety measures you should take.
Swimming Pool Safety
For an adult, a swimming pool is a relaxing place to hang out and get some exercise. On the other hand, a poorly designed pool can be a dangerous place for an unprepared child. Keep your family safe with these pool safety precautions:
- Swimming lessons
- Install pool safety features
- Supervise kids in the pool
1) Swimming Lessons
When was the last time your kids took swimming lessons? Ensuring they know how to handle themselves in water will help them stay safe in the pool. Of course, current conditions mean that swimming lessons either aren’t happening or have to be significantly modified for safety’s sake. Get in touch with your local swimming instructor to see what you can do.
2) Install Pool Safety Features
Even a private backyard pool has to follow legal safety guidelines. For instance, your pool needs to be enclosed in a fence at least 4 feet high to prevent children from falling in. The gate on this fence must self-close and self-lock and be well secured when closed. The gate and any other potential entrances into the pool (such as a window) must be fitted with alarms that go off when someone tries to access the pool without your permission. Finally, make sure your pool drains are fitted with drain covers to prevent anyone or anything from being pulled underwater by the suction.
Pro Tip: Keep a lifesaving device and other emergency equipment near your backyard pool in case of emergency.
3) Supervise Kids in the Pool
Remember that kids are kids and prone to accidents. No matter how confident you are in your children’s swimming abilities and your pool safety features, supervise your kids whenever they use the backyard pool. Fast intervention in an emergency could save a life.
Enjoy Your Pool!
Taking a few steps to protect young children in the pool is more than worth it. With a few inexpensive additions and planning, you can ensure your kids will enjoy their time in the pool and stay safe in the process.
Contact us for more information on swimming pool safety and design.
Autumn brings with it the perfect weather to go swimming in your own backyard pool. After all, when else can Houstonians expect such lovely weather in the middle of the day? You might as well take advantage of it!
Unfortunately, the nice weather attracts more than just people looking to spend time outside. Bugs will use this opportunity to move into your backyard and, in some cases, start breeding in your swimming pool. An infestation can make your pool unpleasant and unsafe to use. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to keep your pool bug-free this fall.
Even the most hardcore bug lovers will admit that wasps are difficult to admire. This is particularly true when they’re swarming in your backyard and infesting your swimming pool. Try one of these strategies to keep them away from your water:
- Hang up a chunk of cheap raw meat far away from your pool to attract the wasps to the snack. Be sure to check on the bait periodically though so it doesn’t rot and leave you with maggots.
- Hang up fake wasp nests to fool the wasps into thinking other wasps have already set up shop in your yard. The territorial insects can’t stand living near each other and will leave.
Bees, while they actually serve a positive purpose in the natural ecosystem, are still stinging insects and unpleasant to have around your pool. Here’s how to get rid of bees:
- Put drier sheets around your pool, whether weighed down with a rock or in a decorative basket. Bees hate the smell and will avoid your yard.
- Set up a small fountain away from your pool to give the bees a chance to get a drink somewhere other than your swimming pool. Put a rock in the water so the bees can climb out safely if they fall in.
It’s no secret to Houston homeowners that mosquitos love water. Wherever they can find it, even in a tiny bucket with rainwater, they’ll breed and cause havoc when the eggs hatch. Here’s how you can curb the tide of mosquitos in your own yard:
- Cover your pool when it’s not in use. Aside from a safety measure, this also discourages mosquitos from exploring your pool.
- Balance your pool’s pH regularly. Clean water full of cleansing chemicals repels mosquitos.
- Install a mosquito mister or bug-repellent candles or lamps to keep the bugs from coming into your backyard in the first place. Just check your local regulations first to make sure the misting chemicals are allowed.
Pro Tip: If all else fails, call an exterminator to get rid of your bug problem. The professionals can handle this.
Keep Bugs Out of Your Swimming Pool
Don’t let bugs take over your swimming pool and ruin your autumn! Stay on top of pest control and pool maintenance to keep infestations at bay. Not only will this ensure you have a clean pool, but you’ll also prevent your family from getting sick from mosquito bites or insect stings. Keep bugs out of your swimming pool and enjoy the fall!
Connect with us to learn more about pool maintenance and backyard pest control.
As many homeowners have discovered, adding a custom, private swimming pool to the backyard provides countless hours of fun and entertainment for people of all ages. However, never forget that an open body of water can pose a hazard if not handled correctly. This is especially critical to consider if you have kids.
While pool safety is important for everyone to understand and practice, kids can be especially vulnerable to potential dangers in an improperly maintained or protected swimming pool. The best way to keep your kids safe is a combination of safety training and special safety features to keep your pool safe. Let’s look at a few proven ways to protect your little ones.
Install Safety Features
Certain pool safety features, such as 4-foot high pool fencing in your backyard, are legally required. In addition to this basic precaution, consider adding a few extra safety features for an extra layer of protection. Ask your pool builder about adding a few things to your building plan:
- Closing and self-latching gate for the fence
- Pool cover
- Pool alarm
- Drain covers
Pro Tip: A swimming pool’s drain suction is too powerful for a small child to swim away from, whether it’s in your home pool or a public pool. If you visit a public pool and notice the drains are uncovered, it’s not worth the risk.
Prepare Your Kids
Do your kids know how to swim? If not, make sure they do! Swimming is more than just a fun summer activity–in an emergency scenario, knowing how to stay above water could easily save your child’s life. Sign your child up for swim lessons and encourage them to keep in practice.
Supervise Your Kids in the Pool
Even the most well-trained swimmer child is still a child. Their size and age make them vulnerable to unsafe pool conditions if they can’t properly swim or the pool isn’t properly maintained. Always keep an eye on your kids while they’re swimming, whether you’re at home or in public. It’s better to be a little too careful than to be careless.
Promote Pool Safety for Your Kids
A swimming pool adds monetary and entertainment value to your home and provides countless hours of fun. But make sure to keep safety in mind. With the proper safety features and precautions, your whole family can enjoy your pool safely for years to come.
Connect with us to learn more about swimming pool safety.
What custom backyard is complete without a fire pit? An open flame adds an exotic feel to your backyard parties and chases away mosquitoes with a light cloud of smoke. However, it’s always important to remember that at the end of the day, an open flame is still an open flame and must be handled with care. As you design your backyard features, keep fire pit safety at the forefront of your mind.
As cool as a fire pit is, if not handled correctly, it has the potential to be a dangerous addition to your backyard. Make sure that you and anyone else who will be using the firepit knows how to safely light, manage, and extinguish a fire. Use this guide to keep yourself and your partygoers safe while the fire pit is in use.
Remove Flammable Materials
Before lighting your fire pit, take a look at the area surrounding it. Is there anything that could potentially catch fire if sparks blew in that direction? Sweep twigs or other flammable debris out of the way to prevent the fire from spreading. A five-foot radius is a good rule of thumb. Additionally, double-check what you and others near the fire pit are wearing. Don’t wear clothing with long, loose parts (such as ties or scarves) that can hang into the fire pit if you lean too close.
Pro Tip: Many homeowners enjoy having furniture around the firepit to facilitate conversation. Make sure all the furniture you use for this is either flame-retardant or made of entirely fireproof materials.
Pay Attention to What’s Fueling the Fire
In general, there are a few flammable items that you should never use as fuel for your fire pit:
- Gasoline or other flammable liquids: These can splash out of the fire pit and present a serious hazard.
- Paper or trash: Burning paper has a tendency to pop and throw sparks out of the fire pit.
- Soft woods (cedar, pine, etc.): Like paper, these woods can pop and spark in a fire.
Extinguish the Fire Carefully
When you’re ready to put out the fire, douse the fire pit in water and stir the ashes with a shovel to make sure every coal is extinguished. As you clean the ashes out, be mindful of their temperature and how to properly dispose of them. Ashes can still retain enough heat to start a fire if exposed to flammable materials even after a couple of days. When you dispose of the ashes, avoid packing them in a cardboard box or paper bag to prevent spontaneous combustion.
Handling an Open Flame Safely
Fire pits are constructed with basic safety precautions in mind, so the chances of something going drastically wrong are low. However, managing the fire safely also depends on you to exercise caution and keep everything under control. With a little care and regards for fire pit safety, your fire feature is a perfectly safe and enjoyable addition to your backyard.
Join the conversation to learn more about safely handling fire features in your backyard.