A backyard can be a wonderful place for children, full of opportunities to explore, learn and grow. However, it can also be dangerous if the appropriate precautions and cares aren't taken. Here we look at 12 important areas to focus on when turning your backyard into a haven for children, from checking play equipment for dangers to hiring fencing contractors to child-proof your pool area.
Check all play equipment
For families with young children, the backyard is often full of various pieces of play equipment which, while loads of fun, can also be dangerous if not checked and maintained for safety on a regular basis. While it's always prudent to keep an eye on young children when using play equipment, you should also check for the following before they begin using the equipment at all.
- Swing Sets: Check screws are tightened and that there are no protruding or sharp fasteners.
- Trampolines: Check that springs are still strong and, if possible, invest in a trampoline with a safety net to eliminate the possibility of your child falling off.
- Cubby houses: Again, check that all screws or nails are probably installed and that the cubby house is free of dangerous spiders or flying insects.
- Sandpits: Ensure these are free of sharp objects and dangerous insects which can be hidden in the sand. Rake over the sand regularly to locate these objects.
Educate your child on animal safety
If you have a pet dog, cat or any other backyard animal for that matter, it's important that your child learns to treat it properly. While having a pet can be rewarding for a child, it can also be dangerous if the child does not learn how to behave around the animal. Consider the following...
- Proper patting: Teach the child to pat pets on the neck, head and sides. Pulling on legs, tails and ears is likely to agitate the pet.
- Spaying and neutering: Have your pets desexed (spaying for females, neutering for males); this will make the animals less aggressive.
- Alone time: Teach your child to leave pets alone while they're eating, sleeping and caring for their young.
- Vet visits: It's also beneficial to keep your pet's immunisations up to date, as children can become sick through contact with your pet too.
Lock up dangerous items
Just like a kitchen or bathroom, a backyard can be full of dangerous chemicals, fertilisers and tools which, if left in easy-to-access places, could be found by young children. Since they are unable to recognise the risks associated without these items, these become real dangers. Some items that should be stored safely include:
- Toxic substances: Weed killers, fertilisers, swimming pool chemicals and rodent baits are just some examples of chemicals which pose a poisoning hazard for your child.
- Tools: Axes, saws, hammers, pliers, jars of screws and nails; remember, if children can get their hands on it, they probably will. Keep your tool shed or garage locked and store tools away safely in latched or out-of-reach drawers and cabinets.
- Swimming pool fences: If you have a backyard swimming pool, you're required by law to ensure it's surrounded by a fence. This is to prevent the incidence of backyard drownings which can occur when children fall into these pools while unsupervised.
- Perimeter fences: Additionally, consider Colorbond fencing to replace old wooden fences, as these are often the source of large splinters.