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  • Press Release

UL urges parents to help reduce 2.3 million childhood ER visits this summer

May 27, 2011


New Survey Reveals Nearly Half of Parents Admit to Not Making Backyard Safety Improvements in the Past Year





Northbrook, Ill. May 26, 2011 -- With the unofficial kickoff to summer vacation fast approaching,  many families are taking ‘staycations' to save money and keep close to home. That means a growing number of parents are considering their backyards as a place to enjoy time with friends, families and neighbors. But while you barbecue, splash in the pool or watch the kids play tag around the play set, it is also important to remember that these summertime activities are known to send 2.3 million kids to the emergency room each year1.  



According to a recent survey from UL (Underwriters Laboratories), the independent global safety organization, while children less than 12 years old spend an average of 4.4 hours per day outside during June, July and August2-8, nearly half (45 percent)2-8 of parents surveyed have not made safety improvements outside of their home within the past year. The survey also revealed that one out of every four parents place grills close to their house2-8, allow children to play on play sets without supervision2-8, or have left water sitting in their kiddie pools overnight2-8.



In addition, while 85 percent of parents admit that their grills are the most popular outdoor item used as part of their staycation activities2-8, only 19 percent believe that grills could be the most potentially hazardous backyard item if not used correctly2-8.



This summer, UL is urging families to make backyard safety a priority. UL reminds parents to take precautions to help avoid both sudden hospital visits or being involved in one of the 7,500 fires caused by grilling mishaps that attract local fire departments each year9.   



"It's so important to have a ‘safety first attitude' when entertaining on a summer day or having a pool party with their kids and their friends," says John Drengenberg, UL's Consumer Safety Director.  "Even though everyone wants to rush right into fun and sun, we all need to commit a few minutes to safety by inspecting the backyard and minimizing potential safety hazards.  Nothing can be more tragic when avoidable accidents suddenly overshadow rest and recreation."



To help parents and caretakers put safety first this summer and avoid potential hazards around grills, pools, outdoor fire pits and play sets, Drengenberg advises to commit a few minutes to safety by inspecting the backyard and minimizing potential safety hazards before the fun starts.  In addition to UL's safety resource, UL is debuting an interactive online tool, The Backyard Safety Explorer.  Designed to help parents and caretakers better set up the backyard before lighting a match or filling the pool, the Backyard Safety Explorer quizzes users on everything from play sets and pools to grills and backyard fences.



"Moms and dads can spend just 10 minutes on The Backyard Safety Explorer and browse's extensive summer safety section to help keep their families safer in their backyards," said Drengenberg.



Other summer safety guidelines and solutions include:



  • Keep grills at a safe distance from buildings and never leave them unattended.



  • Carefully inspect backyard play sets to make sure equipment is anchored safely in the ground, all equipment pieces are in good working order, S-hooks are entirely closed and bolts are not protruding.



  • Never leave a child unattended near, or in, a pool, spa or hot tub. The supervising adult needs to be able to scan the pool every 10 seconds and reach the water within 20 seconds.

  • Always wear gloves when gardening to avoid exposure to lead and other metals in the dirt.



For more summer safety information and a complete list of summer safety guidelines, please visit






Survey Methodology



This survey was conducted in May 2011 using ORC's CARAVAN® landline telephone omnibus. A total of 385 interviews were completed among parents or guardians of children less than 12 years old, living in the same household. These parents or guardians had to be 18 years of age and older and living in the continental United States.



Quotas were set and results were weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of this particular audience. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The margin of error is +/- 5% at 95% confidence level.










CDC Childhood Injury Report: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention website. Accessed May 26, 2011.



2-8 ORC International. "CARAVAN® landline telephone omnibus." May, 2011.



9 The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website. Accessed May 26, 2011.