We all know that constant parental supervision is best when it comes to ensuring your child’s safety, but it can only take a split second of your back being turned for a child to do something that can harm them.
Kids love to explore and climb things – it’s how they grow and learn, after all! Many will see a backyard as a haven for fun, but there are plenty of things lurking in our backyards that can be dangerous for littlies.
According to Kidsafe Australia, the most common place for children to injure themselves is in and around the home – with the most common place for injuries to occur being the backyard.
There’s plenty you can do to give you security, peace of mind, and most importantly, to protect the little ones in your life – here’s some tips and tricks to make sure kids can explore safely outside.
Fence off dangerous areas
While you may not want to permanently fence off parts of your garden, temporary fencing can be handy to restrict access to places like sheds, unenclosed garages and garden beds.
The first thing to do is have a safe play area for kids which is separated from dangers such as cars and driveways. This is even more important if you are setting up an inflatable pool during summer, with your temporary pool requiring fencing by law in Australia. You can create the perfect spot for kids using temporary fencing, which is easily installed and removed to match your requirements.
Alternatively, if your backyard is kid-friendly but you just want to keep your family dog or chooks separate, consider fencing off a part of the backyard that will keep both parties happy with space to roam.
Keep play equipment in good condition
Often we tend to leave our child’s outdoor play equipment outside in all kinds of weather, because who can be bothered moving it when rain starts bucketing down?
With this in mind, it’s important to make sure play items like swings, cubbies and jungle gyms stay in good nick – regularly check to ensure the equipment is stable, and has no sharp edges or splinters, or pieces that could come loose.
Kidsafe Australia also recommends play equipment be placed away from paths or solid garden edges. Paths are high traffic areas, and garden edges can be deadly if a child falls on them the wrong way. Consider putting play equipment on grass, or buying fit-for-purpose mats to go underneath.
Prune plants and trees regularly
If you’ve ever walked into the pointy end of a yucca plant, you know how easy it is to do – and how painful! Trees with sharp leaves like yuccas can poke eyeballs or rupture eardrums, so it’s important to keep them pruned – or cut them down completely.
Make sure you cut off sharp tree branches that hang at both child and adult eye level, and keep any roses or thorned plants well maintained.
Little hands love to grasp and pull at plants, so it’s best to make sure your garden is maintained regularly for safety purposes, and remember that kids will put anything in their mouths so check the plants in your garden aren’t poisonous – your local nursery will be able to give you advice.
The Victorian Government’s Better Health website also has some great suggestions for child-friendly plants and gardening activities that will keep kids safe while learning about the great outdoors!
Keep sun protection at the front of mind
If you grew up in Australia, this one has likely been drummed into you since childhood, but it always bears repeating!
According to the Cancer Council, the delicate skin of babies and children are at high risk of sunburn and skin damage, and exposure to UV radiation during the first 15 years of life greatly increases the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
Cancer Council recommends children under the age of 12 months are not exposed to direct sunlight when UV levels are 3 and above – you can find this information on the SunSmart app, most weather websites and the weather section of most newspapers.
It’s important to protect your child by covering as much skin as possible with loose-fitting clothes made from tightly-woven fabrics; using a broad brim, bucket or legionnaire style hat; and applying SPF30+ or higher, broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen.
If your child loves playing in your backyard, plan the day accordingly to reduce their exposure to the sun, especially between 10am and 2pm. Where possible, install shade sails and large umbrellas to provide additional shade throughout the day.
Don’t rely on shade on its own to protect your child’s skin – UV radiation can reflect from nearby surfaces like sand or concrete, so it’s important to still use other forms of sun protection.
With these tips, your child will be able to explore your backyard to their heart’s content – and you’ll have peace of mind too!