8 Scary Health Risks in Your Own Backyard

VIDEO: Find out the truth behind these common summer myths.
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Dangerous Grill Placement

Is your grill right next to the edge of your deck? You may want to move it.

A charcoal grill next to combustibles (say, a wooden deck rail or low-hanging tree branches) is a leading cause of BBQ fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Always make sure to leave a 10-foot clearing between your grill and deck rails, the side of the house, and overhanging plants, says David Markenson, MD, chairman of the American Red Cross

7 tips that teach a woman how to man the grill

Toxic Plants

More than 68,000 people a year are poisoned by plants, reports the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Most end up with nothing worse than an upset stomach or an itchy skin rash. However, some plants can be fatal, especially to pets and small children.

Do your homework before choosing backyard vegetation, says Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers. A few common plants require caution: Oleander, datura (also called jimson weed), and castor bean are all dangerous if swallowed.

Tiny Pools of Water

Even the smallest amount of standing water can give mosquitoes a hospitable place to multiply.

This raises your risk of annoying bites—and even infections such as West Nile virus. "I've seen mosquitoes breeding in a soda bottle cap," says Joseph Conlon, technical advisor for the American Mosquito Control Association.

Do a weekly check of buckets and plastic covers and dump any water to keep pests away. Also change the water in birdbaths and fountains.

6 Pollutants Even Savvy Homeowners Overlook

Not-Quite-Extinguished Charcoal

Tossing still-warm coals can spark a fire.

Charcoal may feel cool to the touch, but if you throw away coals while the insides are hot, you risk starting a fire.

When you've finished grilling dinner, soak coals with cold water and then place them in a noncombustible metal can for safe disposal. Keep the can on a nonflammable surface, such as the driveway or a cement patio.

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More from Prevention:

How Safe Is Your Backyard

Safeguard Your Health On Vacation

7 Summer Tips For Pets

Is Your Home Making You Sick?

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