Before spring or summer fun, inspect swing sets or jungle gyms and fix rusty or loose nuts and bolts, weakened supports or splintered wood.

- If buying equipment for a child age 2 to 5, check that he couldn't fall more than 5 feet from the highest level (6 feet for an older child).- Look for lightweight plastic or canvas swings (since metal ones can strike a dangerous blow) and gliders with plastic bracket covers so that fingers can't get caught.

- Follow the manufacturer's instructions on anchoring equipment. Grass isn't soft enough for hard landings, so arrange a jungle gym on an 8- to 10-inch-deep layer of wood chips or mulch, extending it out by 6 feet on all sides. If there are swings, extend the soft surface a few more feet.

Pool smarts

- Since children can drown in just a few inches of water, empty wading pools and buckets after using and store them upside down.

- A fence around an in- or above-ground pool should be at least 4 feet high, with vertical pickets less than 4 inches apart or chain links no larger than 1 inch so a child can't climb them. Be sure the fence has a self-closing and self-latching gate that opens outward, with a lock that's out of reach. Move any nearby furniture that could be used to climb over the fence.

- Even if your child has taken swimming lessons, she must still be supervised at all times while in the pool. Store a life preserver handy. If fence pickets are spaced more than 4 inches apart, attach plastic-mesh netting so kids can't fall through or get caught.

Poison protection

Teach your child not to put mushrooms, berries, leaves or flowers into his mouth. Many cause mouth irritation, a stomachache or nausea when eaten; and some, including daffodils, azaleas, foxglove and lots of wild mushrooms, may bring on near-fatal symptoms, such as severe vomiting or a slowed heart rate.

Toxin alert

A toxic chemical doesn't have to be ingested to cause damage. Some bug killers when inhaled can be poisonous. And if chlorine is inhaled or comes into contact with the eyes, nose, mouth or skin, it can cause irritation and burning.

- Never use pool chemicals or pesticides when your child is around.

- Always check labels when using either of these items to see how long to wait before your child can safely return to the yard or pool.

- Store hazardous material in its original container in a cabinet that locks or on a high shelf.

Barbecue basics

- You don't want kids near a hot grill; ideally, one adult should do the cooking while the other watches the children. (Be careful when serving an outdoor favorite: Hot dogs should be cut in small pieces for young kids.)

If you're alone, encourage children to play elsewhere in the yard while you cook; keep them away from the grill after you're done.

- Teach kids age 3 and up to avoid the grill as they would a stove.