Baby proofing your backyard
The backyard can be a great place for you and your kids to escape the indoors and explore the garden. Your kids can jump on the trampoline, swim in the pool or just lie down on the grass next to you. But, there are some dangers in your garden that you might not have paid much attention to before you had children. Here are some of the most common hazards to look out for and what you can do to baby proof your backyard so you can maximise the fun times outside.
Spiders, snakes and other bugs and insects can live in your backyard and pose a threat to kids and your pets. Pest control services can be costly and often is only necessary if you have an infestation or pose a threat such as a snake. But there are a few ways you can minimise the risk. Firstly, ensure you have a clear understanding of what spiders and snakes are common in your area, and you might want to print out a fact sheet that allows you to determine what type of spider or snake you’ve seen in your garden and has the numbers for poison control.
Make sure you maintain a tidy garden to help keep the creepy crawlies at bay! Regularly clean any coverings or long grass which might be attractive to snakes or spiders.
Always monitor your child closely when they are in the backyard, kids love digging and playing in the dirt and will be attracted to bugs and insects – and as we know, little ones have a tendency to put things in their mouths. Things like snails which can seem harmless can be poisonous so pay close attention to what is grabbing your little one’s attention.
Plants may not be something that immediately comes to your mind when you think about the dangers in your garden. However, many plants are poisonous to you and your children. Your kids are often in the garden exploring and have little awareness of what could be dangerous to them. To prevent potential poisoning or irritation, have a thorough check of what plants you have in your garden and remove any that are high-risk and instead opt for planting edible flowers and herbs but make your child asks before they put something in their mouth. As with anything, either you or a responsible adult must always be supervising your child.
Drowning is one of the highest causes of infant deaths in Australia and can happen in a split second. Ensuring you have excellent pool safety is vital. If you own a pool, make sure there is an approved security gate that is locked at all times and cannot be opened by a child. Also making sure the gate is also not climbable, with surrounding furniture or plants is vital as kids are often determined to get to places they’ve been told is off-limits. While you may not have a pool yourself, it is wise to only let your kids near pools that abide by the rules of the state (each state varies) and have proper fencing.
Your child must always be supervised by an adult when near a pool or body of water; this must be adult supervision as older kids might not know how to perform CPR or are unaware of the dangers.
Large water puddles, blow-up pools and any body of water over an inch deep can also pose a threat. Empty out the blow-up pools after every use. Being aware of your surroundings is always important to minimise any harm to your child.
A swing set or trampoline can make your garden more inviting and fun for your children, but often they are not hazardous in your mind. While they are usually relatively safe as they’re made for children, you must make sure they are properly secured and maintained. Check the nuts, bolts, ropes etc often to avoid any accidents, and make sure the swings are bolted to the ground. Purchase safety trampolines that have a 360º cover to prevent your children from falling out.
Sheds, mancaves, barbeques are all hazardous to your child but are often needed to pack away all your garden tools or for parties. Your sheds should ALWAYS be secured with a lock that a child cannot open, if they somehow get access into the shed, bolt your shelves in case they try and climb them, and have all your dangerous tools or products at the top (e.g. chlorine for the pool, saws or garden scissors). Your BBQ tools should also be out of reach for your children. Outdoor furniture is another danger as they can often have sharp edges that are at perfect eye level for toddlers. Babyproof the edges like you do for your furniture indoors.
Frequently assessing your backyard and any potential hazards as your child grows is essential for their safety. It can be a good idea to do an annual check at the start of spring or summer as the weather warms up and your child will be spending more time out there. Supervision should always be maintained – your kids love exploring, but they don’t have the skills or knowledge to know what is dangerous to them.