Often, there are so many child safety hazards in the home that parents forget to ensure the backyard is a safe place to be as well. Unfortunately, however, backyards can be a hazardous place, with thousands of backyard injuries and even deaths occurring in Australia every year. In this article, we'll look at five tips for making your backyard a safer place, from childproofing play equipment to installing pool fencing for security.
1. Childproofing play equipment
Swing sets, trampolines, sandpits, cubby houses -- all of these pose very real hazards for parents to be concerned about. When it comes to swing sets, always check that screws are tightened and that there are no protruding bolts. Trampolines need strong springs and it pays to consider using a safety net to prevent falls. Sandpits can be dangerous if sharp objects find their way in; be sure to cover them up after your child is done playing with them -- after all, you never know what neighbours might throw over the fence. Finally, check that cubby houses are free of dangerous nails or screws, and also ensure there are no dangerous insects that have taken up quarters.
2. Teach animal safety
While pets can be great pals to young children, they can also be unpredictable and dangerous if a few basic safety tips aren't observed. First of all, proper patting techniques should be taught, with patting on the neck, head and sides encouraged. Children can rile up a pet by pulling on legs, tails and ears. Children must also learn to leave pets alone when they're eating, sleeping or caring for young ones, as they may become agitated and aggressive if they are interrupted. Finally, be sure to have your pet desexed, as this will have a positive effect on its temperament.
3. Keep your shed locked
If you have a backyard shed -- or indeed, just a set of tools that might otherwise belong in a shed -- you need to ensure they are locked up at all times. Any tools such as hammers, saws, axes, screws and nails can be incredibly dangerous in the hands of young children, so put them away when you're done using them. You must also beware of leaving chemical substances such as fertilisers, pool cleaners, weed killers and rat baits within reach, as curious children may ingest these leading to poisoning.
4. Take care when mowing
While lawn mowers are becoming more and more safe, they still pose a few obvious dangers. First and foremost, it's a given us that you shouldn't leave a running lawnmower unattended if there are young children around. You should also ensure the grass is clear of objects such as stones, dog bones, toys and other sharp objects which could be flung across the yard by a lawnmower's blades, potentially impacting with a young one. If you use a ride-on mower, be sure to always check behind you when you're reversing. Many backyard tragedies have occurred when these basic precautions haven't been observed.
5. Secure pool fencing
Every state in Australia has its own rules and regulations when it comes to pool safety fencing but, unequivocally, the laws state that a pool fence must be present. In general, the fence will need to be 1.2m high with a gate that only opens away from the pool area. Additionally, there should be no obvious climbing spots. If you have a backyard pool without a fence, get in touch with fencing contractors who can tell you exactly what is required in your home state and ensure the safety of your children.