Children's Safety: Tips for Keeping Your Backyard a Safe Place

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The backyard in the spring and summer is a child's universe. Everything begins and ends with the fun and excitement of playing in the backyard. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous place that can lead to severe injury if precautions are not taken, so parents must be vigilant of the ways to keep the backyard safe. Children are energetic and often act before they think, so parents have to anticipate the dangers that children can get themselves into.

The Fence

If a toy goes into the road or if the dog runs away, then a child will typically run after it, regardless of the danger. A fence, whether wooden or plastic, will keep him or her within the confines of the backyard and away from the street or neighbor's yard. The slats should be close together to keep little bodies from slipping through or getting stuck.

The world is a dangerous place, and a fence not only keeps children in, but it also keeps potential kidnappers out. A criminal will think twice about snatching a child from the backyard if he has to scale a 6-foot fence to get do it.

Supervision

Children should be supervised by an adult at all times while playing in the backyard. That doesn't mean the parent needs to be in the backyard with them, but they should at least have access to a window that overlooks the yard. If chores need to be done, then take as much as possible to the patio or the porch, so Mom or Dad can work and keep an eye on the children. If there comes a time when the children cannot be seen, then rush out to the backyard as soon as possible. It only takes seconds for something dangerous and potentially life-threatening to happen.

Dangerous Chemicals

The backyard needs to be taken care of like any other piece of property, and it also often houses gardens and flower beds as well. It's easy to sometimes forget to properly put away the lawn fertilizer or insecticides. These are poisonous chemicals, and if a child should open and drink it, the consequences could be horrifying.

Make a conscious effort to store all dangerous chemicals safely in a locked cabinet. Children are like Houdini sometimes, and even locks can't always keep them out so, as added protection, make sure the cabinet is out of sight, either in the house or the garage.

Lawn Machinery and Tools

The lawn always needs mowing, and the backyard may be the only place for Dad to set up the table saw when making those home improvements. Mowers and other lawn tools, such as hedge clippers and weed whackers, can be dangerous if left unattended.

While the absolute safest alternative is to store lawnmowers in a shed or garage, some units are too large, and sometimes there is no other place to put it except outside in the backyard. Riding lawnmowers should have the keys removed, so they cannot accidentally start, and walk-behind mowers should be locked to something solid with a bike chain to keep the children from turning them over and exposing the blades. Smaller tools, such as gardening supplies, should be stored in a similar fashion to the dangerous chemicals when not in use.

Playground Equipment

Metal and sometimes even plastic playground equipment and swing sets can be dangerous. Metal playground equipment can rust and the metal can be stressed over time. Each season, parents should go out and inspect the equipment and, if possible, remove or cover any dangerous sections. Plastic equipment is more study and lasts longer, but that doesn't mean a parent should become complacent. Parents should inspect them regularly as well.

The Pool

The pool is a family fun standard, but it has also caused heartbreak. Young children who can't swim should only be allowed near the pool when a parent is physically there. If the child should fall in, then they can drown within seconds. As further protection, a fence that has a locking gate should surround the pool. The ideal fence would have a gate that can be padlocked.

Older children with good swimming skills can have more freedom, but accidents can still happen, so they should always be within eyesight. Remove all pool toys and paraphernalia when finished with the pool to take the temptation away from small children who may go after them.

Pool covers help save a little time and effort with cleaning the pool, but they are dangerous for small children. If a child steps onto a pool covering, thinking that it's solid, then it can completely envelop them, cutting of their air and keeping them from reaching the surface. Instead, use a pool skimmer to manually remove debris or a mechanical robot pool cleaner.

The backyard is a place where children create memories that last a lifetime. Make sure those memories are positive by keeping the area and children as safe as possible.

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Brock Cooper Brock Cooper is a freelance writer for IdealHomeGarden.com. 

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