Have you looked out your window lately? Blue skies, birds chirping and seventy degrees — looks like Spring to us. It’s the perfect time and perfect weather to spend outside getting your yard and outdoor spaces in tip-top shape. But before you head outside, we want to remind you that simple precautions can ensure your spring-spruce up is disaster free. Here are our top 10 yard work safety tips that can help you — and your family — avoid a trip to the emergency room. 1- Know your equipment. Before operating a new lawn mower read the owner’s manual and all of the safety information. Ditto for your weed trimmer. Check with the manufacturer of your tools to make sure there haven’t been any safety recalls. 2- Practice Ladder Safety. You’ve heard it again and again, but always check to make sure your ladder is firmly set on a level surface. Never set ladders on boxes or other objects to make the ladder reach higher areas. Lock or barricade any doors that may open toward ladders. Also, never stand on the top rung or step of a ladder – your balance could be jeopardized. 3- Watch your children. Every year, thousands of children nationwide are injured by lawn-care tools. That’s why we recommend keeping small children inside while you’re mowing or trimming. At a minimum, do not allow children younger than 12 to operate a push lawn mower and anyone under the age of 16 to operate a driving lawn mower. Do not take children on rides with a riding mower. 4- Check your extension cords. Before use, check your extension cords for cracks and seal them with electrical tape. If you find any frayed wires, replace the cord. And remember, never run extension cords through puddles. 5- Protect your body. This one is simple: wear protective gear. We all know that lawnmowers hit rocks, sticks and other items that can be turned into flying projectiles. Wear long pants to protect your legs from flying objects and wear non-slip, closed toe shoes instead of sandals. Don’t forget your eyes and ears! Sunglasses will protect you from sun and earplugs can eliminate loud noises from machinery that could cause a substantial amount of hearing loss. 6- Store tools and materials in safe places. A range of injury can be caused by stepping on, landing on or being hit with garden tools like shovels, rakes and trowels. Do not use these tools when in close proximity to children. When not in use, store them in safe, enclosed areas. If you have small children or pets, weed killer or lawn fertilizer can be deadly. Seal bags and store at heights where small children cannot get in to potentially harmful materials. 7- Don’t dig without approval. Check with your local utility companies before you dig trenches, holes or any other cavity in your yard. You do not want to be responsible for accidentally hitting gas, electrical or sewer lines – the results of which can be extremely hazardous, not to mention expensive. 8- Be conscious of electricity. Don’t leave electrical tools plugged in while not in use. When ready to use a tool, make sure equipment is in the off position before you plug it in. And, as is obvious, always turn equipment off and unplug it from an outlet before you attempt to fix the machinery. 9- Get green smart. Before you or your children do any “hands on” weed removal, be sure you know how to identify poison ivy, sumac, oak and similar toxic plants. Find out ahead of time how to treat the rashes they cause to reduce the irritation. 10- Be Smart. It’s obvious. Never operate lawn machinery or use heavy garden tools while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.