Spring weather means nice days to play outside, and if children are near open lots and fields, then they have an afternoon of imagination. But be careful if there are abandoned houses, sheds, and other structures nearby. They can beckon kids with the aura of reckless excitement. These empty buildings can also be hosts to any number of nasty things. Follow these simple rules for better play and safety.
First, monitor children during their outside playtime. Walk the grounds of the lot or field. Mark off any divots or other holes if a ball game in planned and look for broken glass or exposed metal. Check on the empty buildings. Watch for snakes and biting rodents. Check for locked doors and keep them locked. Reinforce warnings regarding play in abandoned buildings.
Second, if the building cannot be locked, then make the entire structure off limits. Locate the ball game elsewhere. If permission is found, tape off the open areas of the structure to avoid confusion of going inside. Monitor children at play and report any danger or mischief regarding the structure to the local neighborhood or county government.
Finally, notify local fire and rescue to warn of accumulated brush and other debris that may easily ignite. It only takes a spark or discarded cigarette to send a structure up in flames. If the structure is on someone’s radar, there is a better chance of it being removed versus a fire. Fire fighters are often killed or injured when fighting fires in vacant structures so notification may avoid any future danger.