A Guide To Outdoor Safety For Kids
By nature, kids are full of energy and need to be active. With the popularity of video games, more kids are voluntarily spending time inside of the home. In order to stay in good physical health it is important that parents encourage their children to go outside and play, especially during the summer or when weather permits. There is a downside to playing outdoors, however. Whether playing in the park or in one's own backyard, there are numerous ways that children can injure themselves. This should not be seen as a deterrent, however, as it is easily remedied. To ensure the safety of kids who play outside, parents can take steps to ensure that their yards are child-proof and safe.
Playgrounds are popular for young children. While they are commonly found in school yards and at parks, many people also install playground equipment in their backyards. Unfortunately, slides, swings, and monkey bars all present the opportunity for kids to fall or otherwise hurt themselves. Playground equipment should be age-appropriate. Parents with toddlers may consider waiting before buying playground equipment or they should buy equipment that is appropriate for toddlers. This is because playground equipment for older children may be too high or they may not come with certain safety features. For example, swings for toddlers should be designed to prevent children from falling off. Regardless of the children's ages, playground equipment should not be located on paved areas or over areas with rocks, as this can harm children if they should fall. Place wood-chips, rubber padding, mulch, or sand under the play area to create a soft area for children to land on if they should fall. Always look it over thoroughly, particularly if it has not been used regularly. Look for loose screws, rusty areas, or cracks and repair them before children are allowed to play on it again.
Put Away Gardening Equipment
Outdoor equipment presents numerous problems for small children. Items such as rakes, lawn mowers, and shears should be kept in a storage area that is away from the designated play area. Ideally they should be kept in a garage or locked shed. Parents should teach their children that these items are not toys, and should avoid using them when children are out playing. This is particularly true when it comes to the lawn mower as it may propel rocks that could injure small children.
Many plants are poisonous if consumed by children. Verify with a nursery that current plants are not toxic to children or contact the Poison Help Line who will send a copy of local and common poisonous plants. Another way to determine whether or not a plant is safe is to look online at the Plants Database on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website. Pull up any dangerous plants or block the area off so that children are unable to reach it. Teach children to never put anything that they find outside in their mouths.
Chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers are often used to keep back and front yards looking their best. If using these chemicals on the lawn, wait at least 48 hours before allowing children to play on the grass. Use them only when children are indoors to avoid any contact. To store chemicals, place them in a locked storage area or place them in the garage in a location that is high enough to be out of children's reach.
Eliminate Drowning Hazards
Homes with backyard pools present a very real threat to children. To prevent accidental drowning it is critical that families take certain precautionary steps to child-proof the area. One of the most important things that a family can do is to install a fence around the perimeter of the pool. The door that opens and closes the gate should automatically lock to ensure that it is always locked. A pool alarm is another option that adds another level of protection in addition to the gate. If there are buckets in the yard, store them upside down to prevent the collection of water. Buckets of water are a drowning risk for toddlers and small children.
Keep it Clean and Prevent Illness
Look over the lawn for dog or cat feces. Even if a family does not own a pet, dogs that belong to neighbors and stray cats may defecate on the property. If children have a sand box, keep it covered when not in use to keep cats from using it as a litter box. Do not let water sit. In certain areas standing water is the ideal breeding place for mosquitoes. Depending on where a person lives, remove wood piles and excessive leaves to prevent or reduce ticks.
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- KidsHealth - Playground Safety
- Home Safety - A Checklist for Parents
- CDC Spring and Summer Outdoor Safety
- Healthy Children - Backyard Safety
- NickJr. - In the Yard With Your Preschoolers
- This Old House - Child Safety in the Home: Yard and Playground
- Outdoor Injury Prevention Starts in Your Own Back Yard
- University of Florida: Outdoor Safety With Kids
- University of Utah Health Tip: Keep Kids Safe in the Backyard
- CBS: Childproof Your Outdoor Spaces for Safe Summer Fun
- Child Development and Parenting: Infants - Outdoor Safety
- Medline Plus: Home Safety-Children - Safety When Outside
- Family Education - Outdoor Safety
- Nibbles...Ideas for Families: Play It Safe With Outdoor Safety Tips