How to Keep Kids Safe in Your Own Backyard

11 Apr

The leading cause of deaths for children between the ages of one and eighteen years isn’t disease or violence — it’s accidents. Statistically, swimming pools are more dangerous to children than guns, and every year, 200,000 American children are taken to the emergency room for injuries sustained on outdoor playgrounds. Helicopter parents like us fear the consequences of letting their children play in the front yard or public spaces, but kids are just as at risk for injury and death in their own backyards. Learn how to keep kids safe.

Little girl climbing near swing set

There are many benefits to allowing kids to play outside: Fresh air, exercise, and exposure to nature are inarguably positive attributes. Plus, most parents eagerly welcome any excuse to get messy, rambunctious kids out of the house. However, parents should be wise to the fact that the outdoors offer as many insecurities as it does advantages. With springtime nearly here and summer fast approaching, it is time to evaluate the safety of your backyard and make changes to keep your kids healthy and happy.

Inspect Any Playground Equipment

Engineers of toys and playground structures put their products through rigorous testing before making them available for sale, but ultimately the safety and security of your backyard’s playground equipment is your responsibility. Structures, including jungle gyms, teeter-totters, and other playground toys, require constant review and maintenance. If you want to avoid taking your child to the hospital for a playground accident, regularly perform these inspections.

  • Look at the surface of the playground. Ideally, your playground should have a shock-absorbing surface, like soft, loose sand or synthetic rubber, below any play structures. You must make sure this surface is always free of debris, like trash or animal waste, before your child begins to play.
  • Examine the structure at floor-level. You should ensure all equipment is firmly bolted to the ground, and the walking and running surfaces are not littered with tripping hazards like rocks or roots. You should try any platform, including slides and stairs, to make sure they will hold strong during rough play.
  • Check for decay. Playground structures made of any material — metal, wood, or plastic — will eventually become unusable due to deterioration. If you see rust, cracks, or faded colors anywhere on the playground, it is time to invest in new equipment.
  • Scrutinize the details. You should see that all bolts, screws, and nails are flush with the structure, or else they might snag on your child’s clothing or skin. Every protective cap should be accounted for, and any moving parts should be intact and well-oiled.

Fence Off Swimming Pools, Ponds, and Other Water Features

For children between the ages of 1 and 4, drowning is the leading cause of death, and for children up to 14 years old, it is the second biggest killer. Every day in America, more than 10 children drown due to adult negligence. It is clear that water is a silent danger in any house with little ones — but that doesn’t mean you should immediately drain your pool and toss out your bird baths.

Little girls in bathing suits kicking their feet in pool

Any body of water that is more than a few inches deep poses a drowning threat to your child and must be barricaded. Installing a gated fence around the water should be enough to keep your children high and dry when you aren’t around, as long as you keep the gate locked tight. If you have particularly gifted climbers, it may be wise to purchase a pool alarm, which produces light and sound whenever a body enters the pool.

Keep the Area Well-Lit

You and your child are both more comfortable with outside play when the yard is brightly lit, but playtime doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down. With strategically placed outdoor lights, you can be certain that you and your kids will see dangers, like tripping hazards or nighttime critters, before they cause an accident. Plus, lights can add a wonderful asthetic to any outside space; check out these outdoor lighting options from Savoy House.

Store Landscaping Equipment

Keeping your lawn and garden perfectly manicured requires a bevy of sharp, heavy tools that can be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. Curious children seek out interesting objects to play with, and your landscaping equipment is the type of unique toy you don’t want them to touch. You should keep kids far away any time you are using sharp implements or power tools to complete yard work, and when you are finished, be sure to stash them away well out of children’s reach.

Communicate With Your Kids

The best defense against outdoor accidents is a child fully aware of the risks. From a young age, you should educate your child of any and all dangers he or she might face while playing outside. Knowledge is power, and a child armed with the facts of outdoor play is a powerfully safe child.

Hovering high and low, Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

16 Responses to “How to Keep Kids Safe in Your Own Backyard”

  1. Kayla Rogers April 1, 2016 at 4:16 PM #

    It is a great idea to just go ahead and fence off water features. Rather than worrying that your kids will somehow fall in or swim without your supervision, this would be a great way to keep it safe. Plus, then you would be able to let your kids play in the backyard without have to watch them every second!

  2. Audrey Blakeney August 7, 2015 at 11:00 AM #

    My husband and are considering buying a new home; however, the one we’re looking at has a pool without a fence, which, having little kids, worries us. If we can put a fence and gate in around the pool, then this home would be perfect for our family. Otherwise, I would worry about my kid’s safety too much. You mentioned installing a fence and gate around the pool to keep kids out of it to keep them safe. Do you have any advice on what kind of fence to buy?

  3. Tove Maren March 12, 2015 at 12:28 AM #

    I feel tempted to share this with my neighbors… they are an accident waiting to happen! This is all great advice.

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad March 14, 2015 at 11:45 PM #

      Hah! At least it’s them and not you and yours! It was lovely meeting you at the conference. Hope to see you at another soon.

  4. Jen February 21, 2015 at 1:23 PM #

    These are great tips. Spring will be here before we know it and the kids will be outside playing. Thanks for linking up with us at the Momma Told Me Link Party!

    ~Jen

  5. Sheila February 15, 2015 at 10:51 AM #

    Good advice. I try to let my son explore but explain the issues so he knows how to be safe as well.
    Where we lived before there were above ground pools in a lot of the yards–always make me nervous.

  6. Rhonda Chapman February 13, 2015 at 7:21 PM #

    Education is key… not only for our kids but also educate the people who look after them when we’re not there. They need to realise they have 100% the same responsibility as we do – no cutting corners!

  7. The Imp February 13, 2015 at 12:28 PM #

    Wolf is the one that takes the kids to parks, etc. When I join them, he calls out, “Guys, Mom is with us, take it easy!” Which makes me wonder just WHAT he lets them do when I’m not around.

    He lets them climb trees, and all sorts of other things that give me a heart attack. He’s the parent that encourages them to test their limits. I’m the one that reminds him (and them) that I brought them into this world whole and healthy, and intend to keep them that way.

  8. Shelah February 13, 2015 at 10:20 AM #

    Thanks for these great tips on keeping our kids safe!

  9. Crystal & Co. February 13, 2015 at 10:19 AM #

    As much as we would love a below ground swimming pool, they do scare me! Really scare me! So glad you shared this.

  10. Anne Campbell February 12, 2015 at 9:25 PM #

    This is such an important post. My in-law’s have a pool, so we are hyper-aware of backyard safety when we visit them, but we also talk to our kids about safety around the pool. They aren’t allowed in the water unless an adult is out there with them.
    With boys, I’ve had to learn to give them a little more free reign in our backyard, but they cause my heart to stop often 🙂 Especially when they climb trees.

  11. L. E. Mastilock February 11, 2015 at 2:09 PM #

    I strongly agree on that last part. Educate your kids, by that I mean let them educate themselves, with only some safety tips here and there from you. If you’re always trying to keep them safe, but not letting them learn their own limits, they will push those limits as soon as you’re not looking. Let them freely play, with supervision, when they’re toddlers. Don’t interfere so much. If my child can climb a tree, she should be able to get down herself. Don’t just say it’s too dangerous. Kids who can test their own strengths & weaknesses freely will know them later on and not need to test them out dangerously later

    • Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad February 12, 2015 at 5:49 PM #

      I’ve always struggled with the “let them climb the tree”. My daughter did tons of fun things but they always made me nervous. Yet I was daredevil when smaller. Parenting is so hard.

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