A Guide to Childproofing Your Backyard: Tips for New Dads

Just as you install the last cabinet door latch, and make sure that all household cleaners are safely locked away, you sigh in contentment at a job well done. You pick up your cooing infant, and walk out onto the back porch. In a flash, you notice a rusty nail sticking out of the decking, and a puddle of standing water near the steps. You make a mental note to fix these things. There are some things you might not think about, however, that can pose a danger to your little prince or princess while playing in your backyard kingdom. Here are a few tips to keep your little ones safe.

1. Remember that kids put everything in their mouth when they are small. Consider what pesticides or herbicides you use in your yard, how you use them, and when you use them. Read the labels and determine if they are safe to be used around children.

2. Remember, little ones are wobbly! Fill in any holes and cover or otherwise flag any obstacles like tree roots that might trip your child.

3. Playsets and swings are fun, but can be dangerous. Make sure they are put together and installed according to manufacturer instructions, and put mulch or pea gravel down to cushion inevitable falls. Periodically check nooks and crannies for spiders, wasps, or other pests that can hurt your little one.

4. Tools and yard implements should be stowed away out of reach or locked up tightly. Shovels and rakes left lying around can really hurt a small child.

5. Grass needs to be mowed regularly to keep down stickers and weeds that can aggravate allergies. Further, a neatly manicured lawn allows for better visibility, and less likelihood that a snake or other critter will be hiding nearby. Leaves should be raked before their cover becomes too thick.

6. Make sure to dump standing water to cut down on mosquitoes that carry diseases. A simple mosquito bite itch can be more than your tired and cranky child can manage without discomfort and difficulty sitting still or sleeping.

7. Don’t mow while your child is too close or can get too close to you. Flying objects from the mower can cause major injury. Set aside a special area of the yard or garage to put away toys. If they are left lying around the yard, the toys won’t last, might become hidden under grass or leaves and injure your child, and can cause damage to your lawn mower or injury to your child or pet when thrown from the mower.

8. Check the yard for sharp objects. Nails, broken glass, or even sharp sticks can cause injury to your child.

9. Consider pets. If your pets are not child friendly, fence off an area that your dog can go or your child can play safely, without danger of your overgrown pooch injuring your small fry.

10. Consider plants. Some plants are beautiful, and poison. Oleander is a beautiful flowering bush that is very poison. Many plants have inviting red, black, green or blue berries that are not edible, but that your child WILL want to taste. Poison ivy and oak can cause irritating rashes, or can cause major reactions requiring shots and even hospitalizations. Keep an eye out for these pesty plants.

Make your backyard a safe haven for your entire family, and once again sigh in contentment at a job well done. Spending time in the backyard instead of the emergency room will make this project worthwhile!

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