Being active and enjoying the outdoors is important for your children to live healthy, active lives. However, hidden dangers are everywhere-even in your own backyard! Taking proper precaution is imperative to ensure your children stay safe while playing outside in your yard.
While you are responsible for your children's well-being, teaching them self-responsibility and how to play safely is important at an early age. List age-appropriate ground rules for outside play, and make sure they understand and obey them. Of course, it's also a good idea to stick your head outside and check in with them every now and again.
Be cautious with pesticides and other chemicals
Children are more sensitive to the pesticides' toxicity and its effect than adults. It's crucial to exercise extreme caution when using pesticides or weed killers on your lawn if you have children.
- Make sure to read product label before use. The product must be approved for the intended use and applied according to label directions.
- Always store all pesticides in a secure, locked place, out of children's reach-such as a locked shed or a high-reaching locked cabinet in the garage.
- Don't permit your children to play in treated areas when you are applying pesticides or herbicides. Make sure the chemicals are completely dry before letting your children outside. Pay attention to the product label for further instruction.
- Always have your children wash their hands after playing in the yard.
- Make sure your children wear shoes outside, and sit on blankets to play rather than directly on the grass if your lawn has recently been treated.
Check for poisonous plants
Scope out your yard for rash-inducing culprits like poison ivy and poison oak, and make sure your children are aware of their appearance and unpleasant effects so they know to always steer clear. There are many plants, flowers, and berries that can be harmful or even deadly if ingested, so make sure your children know never to put anything found outside unto their mouths. Some common poisonous backyard plants that can compromise your children's safety include: oleander, rhododendron, lily of the valley, hydrangea, foxglove, larkspur, and poinsettia.
Keep play areas safe
Your children are only as safe as the apparatus they climb all over. Inspect any playground equipment frequently to ensure it is sturdy, without any loose bolts or screws. Use shock absorbent materials under your play set to reduce prevent injuries in case of a fall, such as sand or rubber. Make sure the playground is securely anchored to the ground and inspect for loose, exposed, rusted bolts, screws and nails regularly. Play grounds and swing sets should always be installed on level ground.
Inspect your deck
The space between the railings on your deck should be too small for your child to fit through to prevent falls or a stuck head. Frequently inspect your deck for loose railings or boards, splintered wood or protruding nails. Your deck should also be treated with a non-toxic stain or finish. Many decks contain strong chemicals that are harmful to the environment and your health and should be avoided.
Keep dangerous equipment secured
- Landscaping equipment. Lawnmowers, weed whackers, pruning shears and hedge clippers should be safely stowed away in a locked enclosure, such as your shed or garage. Avoid mowing the lawn when your children are in the yard, and never leave a running mower unattended.
- Barbecues and propane tanks. Store your barbecue and the associated grilling equipment securely while not in use. Propane tanks, lighter fluid and sharp utensils (such as barbecue forks) should not be accessible to. While cooking with the grill around your children, never leave the area unsupervised and let the grill become completely cold before putting it away.
- Fire pits. Make sure charcoals, matches, lighter fluid or any other fire-making materials are locked away safely. When the fire pit is in use, never leave it unattended. Make sure the fire is fully extinguished after use, and give the fire pit adequate time to cool before leaving your children alone in the yard.
Make sure your pool is safe
Drowning is a serious backyard danger to kids, and proper pool safety is always a must. Your pool should be barricaded with a 4-foot fence and self-locking gate if you have small children. You can also install an alarm that will alert you if your child someone gets through the gate. Remove the pool's ladder when not in use and store somewhere away from the pool (and keep step stools and ladders away from all fences).
Make sure your children are always under supervision when swimming in the pool. Keep the pool area clear and free of toys, bottles, or other objects that can pose a tripping hazard. Never place a stereo or other electronic device close to the pool and always keep safety equipment (life jackets, floatation devices) nearby.