Child Safety: 5 safety tips for outdoor play

If you think back to your own childhood, you probably have many fond memories of your outdoor playtime. However, playing outside can actually be extremely dangerous for children if parents do not take the necessary safety precautions. These five safety tips will help you and your child safely enjoy your yard.

To make your yard a safe and fun area for your child to play, you will need to actually go out into your yard and walk around. Are there any holes in the ground? Are there steep hills without steps? Do large, sharp rocks jut out of the ground? Make sure the ground is level and easy to walk on. When I was a child, I actually tripped and fractured a wrist when I was running across uneven ground. Just a few years ago, a neighbor’s child tripped on some rocks and severely sprained his ankle.

Once you are sure your ground is level, you will need to take a look at the plants in your yard. Thorny plants and children obviously do not mix well, but you should also remove any plants that are poisonous. Plants that produce poisonous berries are especially attractive to small children and should always be planted where your children cannot reach them. Your child can enjoy plants safely by planting a child safe garden with you. Some good choices for a child safe garden are sunflowers, pansies, pea plants, and corn.

Playing by the road is very dangerous for children. Make sure that your yard is securely fenced with a gate that small children cannot open. This keeps them from running into the street to chase down stray toys. Even if your yard is securely fenced, make sure you teach your children about street safety before you allow them to play in the front yard.

If you have a pool, make sure you have an additional fence around the pool that is at least four feet tall. You should also put a lock on the gate. You may also want to investigate some of the excellent systems that have been designed to notify parents if children open the pool gate or have fallen into the pool.

When you set up equipment for your children to play on, be sure you follow all of the manufacturer’s safety recommendations. The equipment should be securely anchored. Children often fall when playing, so a soft surface beneath the equipment is a good idea. Shredded mulch is often used in play areas to cushion falls. Also, you should be sure you can see the equipment from several locations in the house. This way, you can easily check on your children while they are playing.

Finally, remember that even the safest yard can still be a danger, so be sure you check on children who are outside without adult supervision at least once every ten minutes. Criminals who target children often choose unsupervised children and your presence can help deter these predators. A number of stray dogs have jumped over or broken through fences and attacked children. Also, even equipment that is installed correctly can malfunction.

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