Outdoor entertaining season has begun! However, after winter outdoor furniture, grills and pools need a little prep work to get ready for use. Keep these tips in mind before entertaining family and friends outside:
1. Inspect outdoor furniture for seasonal damage. Winter weather can increase the risk for cracks and chips in outdoor furniture, including glass and sheetrock table tops. These cracks may seem minor now, but they can quickly expand in the hot sun. Consider repairing or replacing any damaged furniture before use.
2. Secure outdoor umbrellas. Check outdoor umbrellas to ensure they securely attach to a table or stand and that they can open and close properly. Even in optimal weather conditions, it’s a smart safety precaution to weigh down your dining umbrellas. On breezier days, keep a close eye on the weather. If the wind picks up, securely close your umbrella and remove it from the tabletop to prevent it from becoming a dangerous projectile.
3. Catch up on yard maintenance. During colder months it can be tempting to neglect yard maintenance. Now that spring has arrived, set aside a day to catch up on essential garden and tree maintenance, including clearing fallen branches, removing leaves from gutters and patching any cracks in your outdoor walkways. Guests should have a clear, safe pathway from your backyard, into the house and out to your driveway.
4. Prioritize pool safety. If you own a pool, test the pool equipment and pool chemistry. Check the pool's safety barriers, which may have been weakened by winter weather. Even if it's not warm enough for a pool party, keep in mind that pools can still be dangerous for young children. Setting up appropriate safety barriers, enforcing rules and supervising children when they are outside, even if they are not using the pool, can help save lives and also can help reduce your liability exposure in the event of an accident.
5. Watch out for open flames. Whether you’re grilling hamburgers or roasting marshmallows, many backyard gatherings involve one or more open flames. To reduce the risk of accidents, children and pets should be at least three feet away from open flames, according to FEMA. Patio furniture or other items that could burn should also be at least three feet away. If you are burning a candle or patio torch to ward off bugs, choose sturdy candleholders that won’t tip over easily. If the candles are for ambiance, consider choosing flameless, battery-operated candles to reduce the risk of an accidental fire.
6. Fire up the grill safely. Place propane and charcoal grills away from your home and deck railings. Check overhead for low-hanging branches or eaves. Remove any grease buildup or other debris from the grill and trays. Learn how to check your propane grill for gas leaks. If you smell gas while grilling, immediately turn off the tank and burners. If you are using a charcoal grill, only use a charcoal lighter fluid. Once the fire starts, do not add any addition lighter fluid or flammable liquids to the fire.