Backyard safety

Many Canadians spend a lot of their time working and relaxing in their backyards during the warmer months. Find out how to enjoy your backyard safely.

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Yard work safety tips

When working in your backyard, it is important to know how to safely use your power tools and equipment. You can avoid injury and accidents by maintaining these items.

  • Read, understand and follow the manufacturer's instructions before using a power tool. Equipment should only be used for its intended purpose.
  • Inspect equipment before use to make sure that it is in good working order and safety guards are in place.
  • Remove rocks, sticks, toys and tools from the lawn before using power equipment.
  • Before plugging in any power equipment, make sure the power switch is turned off.
  • Keep children away from the mowing area and never allow them to operate or ride a lawnmower.
  • Never mow or use electrical equipment in wet conditions. A lawnmower can overturn on a slope or wet grass and rocks and debris can fly out from underneath. Never operate tools with frayed cords or during wet conditions as there is potential for electric shock.
  • If the blades of a power lawnmower become clogged, turn off or unplug the machine before clearing it. Use a stick or other tool to remove the clogged debris in case the blades complete a rotation after clearing.

Wear protective gear

Always wear proper gear when using power tools, such as:

  • leather shoes
  • workboots
  • gloves
  • safety glasses
  • hearing protection

Loud noise from power garden equipment can gradually cause permanent hearing loss and the inability to hear warning sounds.

Outdoor torches and fuels

picture of a refillable outdoor torches

Decorative, refillable outdoor torches are great to sit by on a warm summer night. However, they can pose flammability and toxicity hazards to you and your children.

  • Flammability
    • Even when used correctly, lit torches are an open flame source.
    • Never leave a burning torch or candle unattended.
    • Do not use torches near anything that can catch fire (like flammable decorations, compostable materials and clothing).
  • Toxicity
    • When a torch or other liquid fuel carries toxicity warnings, swallowing the contents can cause severe health effects or death.
    • Keep fuel containers in a well-ventilated area, out of the sight and reach of children.

Portable fireplaces, firepots and pourable fuels

picture of a firepot

Portable fireplaces and firepots that use liquid or gel fuels are becoming popular backyard items. While the flames may seem less intense or more controlled than traditional wood burning fires, there are serious risks to using these products. Some key safety considerations are outlined below:

  • Use portable fireplaces and firepots on level ground or on a stable, level surface, at a safe distance from people and flammable items.
  • If using a pourable fuel to refill a portable fireplace or firepot:
    • Never pour fuel over a flame. Some fuels will burn in a way that flames may be difficult to see, especially when low amount of fuel is left in the firepot or fireplace.
    • Be certain that the flame is out and allow the fire pot or fireplace to cool completely before refilling.
  • Keep pourable fuels away from any flames or other objects that can create a spark.
 
Flame jet observed after gasoline is poured over an open flame.

Flame jet observed after gasoline is poured over an open flame.
Reproduced from ATF Fire Research Laboratory

When gel or liquid fuels are poured into a firepot or fireplace that is still burning or hot, they can ignite and violently expel flames onto nearby people or objects, a phenomenon known as flame jetting. It can happen if fuel is poured over any open flame source. This poses a serious fire and burn risk. Non-refillable fuel canisters are a safer alternative.

Tips for safe use

  • Teach your children that these products are not toys.
  • Store products as per label instructions.
  • Always read the label of any chemical product before using it.

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