Childproofing Your Backyard

The backyard is a great place for kids to play outdoors, but even though it is, well, your own backyard, it does contain some hazards. Take these steps to make it safer for your kids to enjoy.

If you have a swimming pool, it goes without saying that that’s one of the bigger hazards. A proper fence is essential with young kids around: consider that they may try to get around it by going over, under, and even through it. Make sure it’s high enough that it can’t easily be climbed over (a minimum of 5 feet is recommended), and choose a non-scalable material such as wrought iron mesh. The gate and latch should be self-closing and self-latching, and make a point of never propping it open – guests and family members should close it every time. If the area is surrounded by grass or earth, check periodically for gaps that a small body could wiggle through.

Lawnmowers are responsible for thousands of child injuries every year, from cuts to broken bones and even amputations; they can also propel debris that gets caught (such as rocks or metal) at more than 100 miles per hour. Store them in a shed or garage rather than in the yard, and keep gasoline and other oils out of reach as well. It’s best to not have kids around while you’re mowing, and especially not riding along the mower; make sure they know it’s an adult-only activity.

Certain plants pose a danger to inquisitive hands and mouths: flowers such as white oleander, fox gloves, azaleas, and lily of the valley are beautiful, but poisonous. Toddlers should be kept well away from them if you have them in your yard. The chemicals used to treat and glow plants can also be toxic: pesticides, weed removers, and fertilizers can be absorbed through the skin, or consumed by young children eating plants or playing with the dirt. Keep children and pets out of the yard for 48 hours after you apply these chemicals, and keep the containers locked away and well out of reach.

Clear the yard of attractive nuisances such as gardening equipment, lumber piles, and tools, and check any play equipment regularly to ensure it’s in good condition.

Even after you’ve taken precautions to childproof your yard, the importance of supervision can’t be overstated – always have an adult keep an eye on kids playing outdoors.



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