The backyard offers a world of fun for children. Playgrounds offer even more chances for adventure. But the fun can end abruptly when someone gets hurt. That’s one reason the American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents to supervise children’s outdoor play, even at home.
To protect your kids from injuries, keep these backyard and playground safetytips in mind.
Backyard safety basics
Start by giving your backyard a once-over:
- Check to see that your fences are sturdy and in good repair — free from splinters and rust — and that toddlers cannot open gates.
- Store hoses after each use so children don’t trip over them.
- Hang ladders in a shed or garage so children cannot climb or play on them.
- Keep pathways clear of toys so that no one (including you!) trips over them.
- Make sure children are indoors when you are using a lawnmower or other potentially dangerous tools such as a saw, hedge trimmer, or weed whacker.
- Keep all garden tools out of children’s reach, and store them with tines, blades, or spikes pointing downward.
The key to playground safety is supervision.Unsupervised play is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign. Keep an eye on your kids and put a stop to any pushing or roughhousing on playground equipment.
Here are some additional guidelines for playground safety:
- Choose sturdy age-appropriate play sets, not swings and climbers that your child will “grow into.”
- Install play equipment on level ground and make sure it cannot tip over.
- Place equipment at least 6 feet away from walls, fences, trees, and other obstacles to allow for safe “landings.”
- Use soft protective surfacing, such as wood chips, mulch, or rubber matting, under all equipment. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a 9-inch deep layer of protection that extends six feet beyond the equipment.
- Check the equipment quarterly for wear, and repair loose, jagged or splintering parts. Also, make sure that all screws and bolts are tight — they can loosen over time.
- Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, or pet leashes to playground equipment. Children can strangle on them.
- During summer, check play surfaces to make sure they are not so hot that they could cause burns.
- Periodically check for equipment recalls with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can find their web site at http://www.cpsc.gov, or call 1-800-638-2772.
Water and pool safety
Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in children, and pools are not the only hazards. Any body of water is dangerous to a young child. Never leave children unattended around wading pools, hot tubs, fountains, small streams, ponds, wells, postholes, or ditches. Children can also drown in large buckets of water and in coolers filled with water from melted ice, so empty such containers after every use.
If you have a pool in your backyard, follow these guidelines:
- Surround the pool with a fence that is at least 48 inches high. Check with your city or county for additional requirements regarding pool fencing, covers, or alarm systems.
- Never leave a small child alone in or near a pool or spa/hot tub, even for a minute. A child can drown in less than three minutes.
- Keep toys, tricycles, wagons, and balls away from the pool. Children may attempt to retrieve toys that fall into the water and then fall in themselves.
- Keep electrical appliances (such as radios) away from the poolside as they pose a shock hazard if wet.
- A pool cover should cover the pool completely and attach to the patio floor so children cannot slip under it. Choose a pool cover that is designed for safety — not simply a cover that is designed to maintain the pool temperature.
- A hot tub should have a locking cover that you put on whenever the hot tub is not in use.
- Empty “baby” pools and put them away after every use, because they can fill with rain or water from sprinklers.
Keep these essential safety items near your home pool:
- A telephone or cell phone and phone numbers for emergency services
- A poster with safety and CPR instructions
- Shepherd’s hook, safety ring, and rope