Following up on last week’s water safety post, this week we discuss other ways to keep your kids safe in your own backyard.

Summer is officially in full swing, which means the sprinklers are flowing and swimsuits have become everyday wear. As toddlers and young children ask to spend more and more time playing outside, it could become painfully obvious the ways in which you’ve put off childproofing your outdoor spaces.

Figuring out where to start your outdoor childproofing may feel overwhelming. That’s OK. Start small, with the places your child is most likely to play in and follow the suggestions below to help keep outside play safe this summer.

BBQ Areas

A favorite part of summer for many families is backyard barbecuing. But keeping children safe around the grill is just as important as getting those perfect char marks. Children are fascinated by fire and may try to touch an open flame, which is why it’s extremely important to follow these barbecue safety rules:

  • Never leave an open fire unattended.
  • Keep young children away from the cooking area.
  • Store matches out of reach.
  • Make sure the BBQ is secured and cannot tip over.
  • If your BBQ has knobs, keep a protective covering over the BBQ when not in use.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT.
  • BBQs can be sharp. Be aware of jagged edges and pointy protrusions.
  • Consider drawing a “safety zone” with chalk around the BBQ and explain to your child that when the BBQ is on that they stay behind the chalk line.
  • Keep BBQ tools, such as brushes and tongs out of reach.

Play Equipment

The type of play equipment you have in your backyard will likely depend on your child’s age and what is developmentally appropriate for them to play on. But let’s say you have children with a wide age gap, or maybe the house you just moved into came with a play structure already installed. Either way, it’s important to ensure that it is safe for your child to use. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year roughly 50,000 children go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms because of injuries on home playground equipment. The good news is that you can help prevent these injuries:

  • Check your outdoor play equipment regularly for sharp or broken edges or splintered wood.
  • Always supervise young children on slides and swings.
  • Watch for infants and toddlers who may walk into the path of swinging children.
  • Have a soft surface under the play equipment to cushion falls. This could be wood chips, sand, or rubber mats. Maintain at least 9 inches of loose-fill material.
  • Never place play equipment near the street or driveway.
  • Locate play equipment at least 6 feet from any structure or obstacle, such as a house, fence, sheds, trees or poles.
  • Ensure the play site is free of obstacles, such as low-hanging branches, wires, tree stumps or large roots.
  • Metal play structures need to be treated to prevent rust, corrosion, and deterioration. Wooden play structures also need to be rot- and insect-resistant to prevent deterioration.

Sun Safety

Infants and young children have delicate, porcelain-like skin. It only takes a matter of minutes for it to become red and irritated by the sun’s rays. When planning for outdoor play, keep infants 12 months and under out of the direct sun and keep their skin and head covered. In addition:

  • American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that all kids wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends covering all areas of skin for children under 6 months old. You may apply sunscreen to small areas of any exposed skin. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • Sun exposure can damage the eyes as well as the skin. If possible, have your children wear sunglasses while playing outside.
  • Try to ensure that play areas are shaded.
  • Avoid playing outside during the hottest part of the day: 10 am to 4 pm.

Other Tips

  • Pad patio furniture, such as table corners, with foam edge and corner bumpers.
  • Keep garden equipment like hoes and clippers locked up.
  • Avoid using pea gravel in your yard—it is a choking hazard.
  • Store garden hoses away or in shaded areas. Sitting water in a hose can get very hot in the sun.

Through A Toddler’s Eyes

Another great idea when examining your yard is to get down low and think like a toddler. It may provide some perspective when it comes to creating a safe place for your child to explore.

 

This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com).  Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! please visit their website (https://parentingnow.org/) or contact us at info@parentingnow.org


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