How to Keep Kids Safe in Your Own Backyard

10 Jun

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

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