There is no comprehensive list of things you can do to keep your children safe, or that replaces good parenting or adequate supervision. Each parent should look at their own back yard and determine what risks their children face in playing in the area, and then take the responsibility to mitigate those risks through childproofing and education. That said, here are several tips you can consider as a starting point to making your yard a safe place for child-play.
Fence off dangerous items with barriers and enforced rules
Swimming pools and hot tubs should be separated from the yard with a fence that is tall enough to prevent children from climbing over and getting into the pool unsupervised. Other danger areas, such as a hot grill that is in use, should be declared and enforced as kid-free zones to prevent burns and other injuries.
Fence in the play area with barriers or enforced rules as well
Not every family wants to barricade their children from the rest of the neighborhood like a prison, so if you don’t have a physical fence preventing the kids from wandering from your yard, communicate and enforce strong rules about the boundary of the yard and the times when it is acceptable to go beyond that boundary.
Remove inadvertent chemically-laden snacks
Toddlers explore the world around them with their mouths and no matter how hard you try, your toddler is very likely to eat a few leaves or flowers from your back yard. Common chemical fertilizers and pesticides can be very dangerous for the development of young children, and you should avoid using them by researching organic alternatives. If the chemical can kill or harm small creatures, it can do the same to your child. A guide from GreenLiving provides some tips on removing the chemicals from your home and yard.
Replace old glass doors with shatterproof glass
Older forms of glass can shatter into dangerous shards that can easily cut through and greatly injure a child or even adult. Using modern shatterproof glass that breaks into less harmful pellets is a good way to mitigate the extreme danger of the shards.
Put toys away when not in use
Toys should be put away when not in use so as to not tempt the children to come back out (or go back into the pool) when no supervision is present to retrieve or continue playing with the toys. Picking up also teaches your children responsible play time and prevents toys from becoming tripping hazards the next time the kids are outside.
Keep garden tools and supplies in a safe, inaccessible place
Tools are often sharp and rusty, and can pose unique dangers in a child’s play area. Put away garden tools when they are not in use and make sure your children understand that they are not toys. If you do choose to use chemicals in your yard, be sure to not allow your children to play in the area in the first 48 hours after application and store the chemicals in their original containers in a high up locked cabinet or locker.
You can’t protect your children from everything. You will have cuts, scrapes, and burns, and you shouldn’t kick yourself when these things happen, even when they could have been prevented. Dealing with minor injuries is a natural part of growing up and an essential component of learning how to handle risk as you raise your children to become responsible adults. So when you think about the above tips, consider that you should eliminate major dangers first, mitigate smaller dangers, and allow the children to have fun even if they might get a scrape or small splinter in the process. They will learn from it in the long run.
This is a guest post by contributing author Claire Wilson who lives and works as a freelancer in the London suburbs. Claire is currently writing for Worldmarket.com – check out their selection of world market outdoor rugs which are great to make your patio nicer and more comfortable.