Despite the new — and somewhat disturbing — trend that nearly half of Americans aren’t taking summer vacation time, there’s no doubt that you’ll spend weekends and weeknights at the pool or beach, barbecuing, and soaking up some vitamin D. With a little creativity, you can mix things up with your family by having an at-home campout, starting a garden, or staying active together by playing sport-related activities.
But before letting everyone loose, get your family and home ready for a safe summer. Take a good look around your abode to make sure it’s prepped for all the outdoor activities on your to-do list. Most of these projects are easy enough to do yourself, so conduct an inventory to see if you have the proper tools to get each job done efficiently and without injury.
Start by taking care of basic home maintenance items such as power-washing the decks, cleaning patio furniture (to include cushions) and doormats, fixing or replacing broken screen doors, restaining the deck, putting window screens back in, and cleaning out the gutters and drains. Next, move on to some of the more heavy-hitter projects.
Prep the Yard
The yard is the heart of the home for any family during the summer months, so make sure it’s ready for the kids but also maintained from an aesthetic and safety standpoint. For example:
- Consider adding a wooden swing set equipped with trapeze bars, play deck, climbing wall, ladders, and even a sandbox to prevent your kids from becoming too lazy during the summer months. Just make sure you do ample research to prevent injury and ensure the set you purchase is the right one for your children’s age, weight and size.
- Clean the grill and make sure you have all the necessary supplies.
- Dig out the sprinklers and check garden hoses for any leaks.
- Repair, paint, or replace any fences or gates — the same goes for your porch and deck.
- Rake up old leaves, eliminate weeds, prune bushes and trees, and toss dead plants. Lay some fresh mulch, soil, and compost before planting some fresh flowers — don’t forget to tend to any perennials, too.
- Spray for ticks, but make sure to use a safe solution.
- Hang some festive yet tasteful lights for those evening barbecues.
You may not have a pool yet, but it’s still smart to talk about water safety, as statistics indicate that there are more deaths from accidental drowning than accidental firearm discharge. If you don’t have one already, consider installing a motion detected pool alarm to alert you when your child is near the pool so you can keep an eye on him/her. If your kids aren’t strong swimmers, it’s not a bad idea to sign them up for lessons to boost their confidence and your peace of mind.
Gather Everyone’s Warm-Weather Essentials
Make sure safety items such as life preservers and water wings are in working order. Dig out bikes, rollerblades, sand, and inflatable toys, and make sure you don’t need to make any repairs or replacements. Purchase items like bug spray and sunscreen in bulk so you don’t run out at an inconvenient moment. Researchers have found that only 25 percent of children wear sunscreen regularly, so make sure you’re educating your kids on the importance of wearing SPF to prevent a severe burn or skin cancer. Lastly, ensure everyone’s bathing suit, sunglasses, goggles, and sun hat fit correctly.
While everyone wants to make the most of summer’s not-so-endless days, take time to come indoors to cool off once in a while. Before the dog days hit, make sure you conduct routine maintenance on your air conditioner so it runs smoothly all summer long. Always have plenty of non-sugary refreshments on-hand so nobody gets dehydrated or has a heat stroke issue.