Encouraging your kids to play outdoors in a backyard is always a good idea. It allows children to use their imagination. Also, improve creativity and stay active while enjoying the fresh air. However, before letting it happen, every responsible parent should ensure their backyard is a safe place to play. I invite you to check those backyard safety tips for your kids, which might help you to be well prepared.
General Backyard Safety Precautions
Every backyard is different, and while some safety rules are applicable for certain backyard types or parents’ needs, it might not work for others and vice versa. There are general safety precautions that every parent should start taking from to make their backyard a safe place for kids.
Examine Your Backyard
It’s vital for you to assess your backyard before your children go there first. You should begin from examining your yard for natural hazards such as:
- fallen tree branches
- holes in the ground
- stinging insect nests
Kids love to explore, and it might end up in a painful experience if an adult’s eye has not scanned your yard. What is more, you should never leave your home or gardening tools, including chemicals in an open area. It has to be securely placed in your garage or any storage room where your infants don’t have access to.
Teaching your children to follow safety rules means teaching them to be aware of the consequences of their actions. If you set the standards right and explain why they are asked to support them, you can avoid some serious accidents in your backyard. Another important thing is to make them play safe no matter where and with whom they are. It can also help when playmates come over, or your children go to their friends. So here are a few safety guidelines you can use while teaching.
- Ask your child to be friendly and patient with other kids. Which means no chasing, horseplay, blocking others way or pushing on slides, climbing walls or swings – somebody can get hurt.
- No running with lollipops, gum or anything else in a mouth while eating – you can choke.
- Use play equipment for its purpose. For example, swings are not suitable for standing on it, and slides are not made for hiking them up.
- Don’t leave any toys unattended in the middle of the play area. Always put them aside when not using for others not to trip or fall.
- Always wear closed-toed shoes and avoid slippery surfaces.
- Don’t wear loose clothing or remove any drawstrings and scarves if noticed.
There is no better way to protect your minor from any danger while playing outdoors than keeping an eye on it. It might not prevent you or your kid from an accident, but it can help you to respond in time and get help immediately. Besides, the supervision is more necessary for the younger ones. So you can also teach them to regularly watch out for you to make sure they are not left alone.
Secure the Borders
Keeping your kid safe in a backyard also means keeping him/her away from wandering in the street. Fences with self-closing or self-latching gates can help ensure your little ones remain in your property within set boundaries. What you need to make sure here is to get a fence that has no gaps or sharp objects on it. Children can easily get trapped in it when leaning on it or trying to get it trough. However, if you are not able to install a fence, at least what you can do is to define the boundaries and explain it to your kid. For extra protection, you can get one of these smart devices like GPS trackers. That can help you see your child’s location on your mobile app.
Pool / Hot Tubs Safety
Drowning is the leading cause of children dying under age 4 in the US. The statistics are scary in other countries too. The worst thing is that kids can easily drown in several inches of water (for example in a bucket full of water ). So having an unprotected pool in your home literally means risking your kid’s life. So this is why every parent should be concerned about water safety starting from their own home.
If you have a pool or hot tub in your backyard, the first thing you should consider to help prevent any accidents in the water is getting a fence. The fence should be at least 4 feet high and have a gate that closes and latches on its own. They are helpful for anyone, who might forget to close or lock the gates leaving it as an invitation for your children to come over. Besides, you should always cover your pool or a hot tub with a hardcover and empty when it’s not in use.
Remember, rules for playing in or around the pool are also necessary for kids. Swimming classes can teach the technique, but a discipline in the water is also required. It means no horseplay, pushing each other or pretending of drowning. Finally, nothing can replace an adult’s supervision. You should never leave your kids alone at the pool and make sure you are observing them. Couple seconds of your attention can be vital for your kid in trouble. Besides being always around, you can always enroll in CPR class, which can help you be more confident and teach how to save a life.
Proper Safety Around Grills and Fire Pits
Grilling is one of the most favorite outdoor activities for many families. When the weather is good, there is nothing better than spending some quality time together with the meal cooked on a fire. But there is a “but.” Grills or fire pits by themselves are dangerous for kids. There are specific safety rules you should follow in order not to let it become life-threatening.
First of all, before even using a grill, you should choose the right place to set it up. You should move it away from your kid’s play area. It also must establish some boundaries where kids wouldn’t be allowed to cross. Secondly, you shouldn’t leave your grill unattended or ask your kid to keep an eye on it. They are too young to handle it! What’s more, you should never leave such items as barbecue lighters, lighter fluids, matches, propane tanks or other flammable materials in an open space or nearby the grill. Make sure you lock them up (in a garage or other storage room, not in the house) as soon as possible after use.
After the cooking is done, there are still some safety precautions. You should not allow your children to play near the grill as the charcoal might still be hot and it can accidentally burn the skin if it’s burst. I would recommend you to dedicate a special permanent place for your grill and restrict kids from playing around.
Safety rules for fire pits are actually the same as they are for grills. The most important thing is to make sure kids are not running around or playing nearby when it’s flaming and always put the fire out. For an extra layer of protection consider installing a fire barrier.
It might sound obvious, but keeping your garden tools out of reach from your children is one of the strict safety rules while babyproofing outside. Parents often forget how curious and fast (if they are eager) young children are. This is why you should never leave any sharp tools you’ve been using for your lawn, bushes, or garden unattended. They are sharp and sometimes heavy, which means your kid can get a severe injury or bacteria. What is more, you should keep them in a dedicated place which can be locked.
There are suggested list of items you should always securely store:
- Pruning shears
- Garden scissors
- Power tools
Items to keep out of your child’s reach also include garden pesticides:
- Weed killers
- Cleaning materials
- Car fluids
They are super toxic for humans and especially for kids. Make sure your store puts them in a secure, locked area.
Kids are explorers, and you might never know what to expect from their every day’s journeys outside. Some of them might end in poisoning if your garden is full of exotic or unknown plants. Actually, there are some you might have in your home and not even consider as poisonous. So to start with, make sure your yards are pet and kids friendly regarding the plants you are growing. Second of all, you should teach your children to never put any plants, berries, or flowers in their mouths without asking you or any other adult. Especially if they are too little to know the difference between a strawberry and eglantine berry.
If you have any doubts about your plants and whether they are toxic or not – it would be the best option if you remove them and replace it with well knowns. To make sure you are right, you can always ask a professional gardener for a second opinion. Just don’t play with a fate – poisoning can sometimes end in death. In case your children have swollen anything suspicious, don’t wait and always call the ambulance.
Don’t Forget Sunscreen and Bug Spray
Spending time outside in good weather is fun! Yes, the sun is all we need…as long as we stay protected. It’s true, and vitamin D is essential for our immune system, especially after gloomy wintertime. Yet, kids’ skin is much more sensitive than adults. Just a few sunburns can not only be really painful but also increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.
To reduce sun exposure, you should always make sure your child wears a hat or stays in the shade (especially during the midday hours). You should also check the UV index daily and apply sunscreen accordingly. You can choose products with an SPF between 15 and 50 and always follow label instructions. Specialists do not recommend to use sunscreen products on children younger than six months. Also, sunscreens with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are safer than other products, and I would suggest you avoid vitamin A, oxybenzone and octinoxate ingredients. You should be aware that you can apply the sunscreen every 2 hours if the sun is intensive and cover all exposed skin.
Good weather usually also means a growing biting insects population. Mosquitoes or ticks are one of the most common and dangerous insects that transmit diseases. To prevent insect bites, use insect repellents. Make sure to carefully follow the label instructions and don’t forget to wash repellent-coated skin when your kid is back inside. In case you are using both, the sunscreen and the insect repellent at the same time, note that sunscreen usually needs to be reapplied more often than insect repellent. To be sure your kid comes back home healthy, you should conduct a tick check every single time upon returning inside.
To minimize the risk of insect bites, you can also take some extra precaution steps. First of all, keep your kid’s playground area away from wooded areas and mow the grass regularly. Secondly, avoid any loose clothing. Ask your children tuck in the shirts into pants or pants into socks or do it by yourself for them. If your kid is still a stroller age, make sure to use a net over his/her head or body when leaving it outside.
Ready for Some Changes?
Playing outside is an essential part of a child’s well being. It’s can also be a relief for you knowing your minor is safe in your yard. With putting just a little of thought in adjusting your property to be more kid-friendly, you can provide an excellent place for your kid-free time and development. Remember, some injuries and accidents can be predictable and preventable. Combine my safety recommendations with your common sense (parents do have it), and you’ll be ready to enjoy watching your kid safely playing in your backyard.