10 Things You Should Never Leave Outside

No matter how safe the neighborhood or how great the climate, some things are better kept inside.

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Toys in the front yard

iStock/Ljupco

Besides deducting serious points from your home's curb appeal, leaving your kids’ toys scattered around the front yard is a dangerous habit. Abandoned frisbees, balls, skateboards, and other outdoor toys on the lawn could make your home a target for potential burglars: They're a sign that expensive gaming systems or electronics might be waiting inside. Make a point to help your kids clean up after they’ve been playing outside and find a convenient place to store everything afterward, like a giant plastic tub or wire hanging rack. These are other key signs your house is vulnerable to being robbed.

Your dog

iStock/Jaroslaw Wojcik

How many times has your sleep suffered as the neighbor’s dog yapped away behind the fence into the wee hours of morning? Though it seems like a good idea to let Fido roam free, the backyard is definitely no place for man’s best friend (for long stretches of time). Dogs are pack animals, meaning they require companionship and love—both of which they will not find when they are tied up or alone. Plus, solitude and boredom could lead to bad behavior from your pooch, including destructive digging; chewing hoses, sprinklers, and shrubs; or becoming dangerously aggressive. While outdoors, pups are also subject to uncomfortable weather conditions and dangerous animals like coyotes. For the sake of your yard, your sanity, and your dog, keep the little guy (or girl!) indoors. These are shockingly common pet dangers in your own backyard.

Bicycles

iStock/VladislavStarozhilov

Your trusted two-wheeler is no match for the wind and rain. After a week of a bike being left outside, you’ll start to see visible damage from the weather: the chain will rust, the plastic and rubber will break down, the colors will fade, and the plastic will get brittle. Plus, in areas with a lot of rain and humidity, bicycles will corrode more quickly. Put a tarp over your bike to shield it from sun and rain, or store it in your garage where it will be the least exposed to the elements. Not to mention, a lonely bike is just inviting a thief to help himself to a new ride.

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Herbicides and pesticides

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Although these may be a great way to get rid of unwanted pests, herbicides and pesticides can be extremely harmful to people and other animals who could get into them by mistake, especially house pets and children. After applying them where needed, repackage the leftover chemicals, seal tightly, and store in a place that is out of reach from tiny paws or hands. Here's how to fix 11 common lawn problems.

Your car

iStock/Henrik5000

To preserve the life of your roadster, it’s best not to leave it outdoors if you have a garage to keep it in; doing so not only makes it easy prey for thieves and burglars, but it’s also vulnerable to extreme (and often harmful) weather conditions. In the summer, the sun shortens the lives of your tires and battery, while also wearing down the paint. The winter brings animals that can burrow into the car’s wiring and short the circuits, as well as ice and hail that damage the paint and windows. Car covers can scratch the paint, so it’s best to keep your car in a garage; covers should be a last-resort option.

Electronics

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It’s surprisingly common for homeowners—especially those with a covered deck or patio—to leave stereos, televisions, and other equipment outside for the next balmy evening. But these electronics are sensitive to severe fluctuations in temperature and could be damaged in the rain or sun. This goes for any other appliances, too, such as a blender or mini fridge; even if they’re covered, you might find that insects and mice have made a feast out of the wires. Keep it all indoors, so you won’t have to replace it.

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Shoes

iStock/Olivier Blondeau

You could be in for a slimy surprise if you leave your shoes outside for too long. Bugs, mice, and other small creatures have been known to make homes out of sneakers’ comfy soles, nibbling holes and leaving feces behind inside. Sun, rain, and snow can wear your shoes down and cause them to grow foul-smelling mildew. To extend the life of your favorite footwear, place them on an elevated surface in a closet, along with the rest of your clothing. Here are more smart tips to make your shoes last longer.

Bags of trash

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Even though you may want to get your trash out of the house before it spills over the bin, it’s probably not best to leave the bags sitting outside for long periods of time. On a hot day, trash can produce a stinky smell and sprout airborne bacteria, which poses a health risk to unsuspecting passersby, especially children and the elderly. Plus, leftover food attracts bugs and wild, nocturnal animals like raccoons and bears looking for an easy meal; after the creature has gorged in the night, you’ll wake up to find your front lawn covered in a layer of scattered garbage. Keep trash bags in bins inside your garage or out of sight in the backyard until it’s time to put them out for the garbage truck—you’ll be doing yourself (and your neighbors!) a huge favor.

Sunscreen

iStock/inthevisual

Sunscreen may be a product made for the outdoors, but it doesn’t belong out there unless you are too. Leaving the tubes outside in extreme heat can not only cause the cream to burn your skin when you apply it, but high temperatures also change its composition, making it less effective at protecting you from the sun’s rays. Heat could also cause the tube to explode, leaving a sticky mess to clean off your patio. Store your sunscreen at room temperature, ideally in a bag or drawer where you can easily grab it for your next outdoor adventure. This is what all those labels on your sunscreen actually mean.

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Your boat

iStock/kamski

Although boats may seem too big to leave anywhere but outside, taking proper precautions for storage will extend the life of your beloved water cruiser. Without protective covering, boats are vulnerable to the most harrowing of outdoor elements; the vinyl seat covers will fade, the paint job will rust, and the upholstery will become dirty and start to mold. Ideally, you should store boats inside a shed or another large building, but if that is not an option, it will be smart to invest in a plastic cover or tarp—doing so will save you from year after year of repair jobs.


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