Super safe fun
Playing outdoors should be lots of fun, and it’s good for everyone, too. So if you’re feeling anxious about letting your little ones loose, check out top advice from child safety expert Katrina Philips, CEO of Child Accident Prevention Trust (capt.org.uk).
Kids should be encouraged to play in the garden and it’s all about finding the balance between letting them keep active and have fun, while being aware of what to watch out for to keep them safe from serious injury.
“Our focus isn’t about saying you cant do things, it’s about helping parents and carers be aware of the risks so they can do practical things to make their homes and gardens safer for children,” Katrina told MadeForMums.
Katrina says certain minor accidents are inevitable and you should try not to worry too much. “Children who are having fun and being active are going to fall over,” says Katrina. “You’re not going to be able to prevent scrapes and bruises and there will be lots of scabby knees, but that’s just part of kids being kids,” she adds.
Check the boundaries
Make sure your garden is secure by checking the boundaries, so that little adventurers can’t escape.
“Kids are very good at squeezing through very small gaps and getting into next doors garden where there may be pools or ponds,” Katrina says.
“It’s worth looking around your garden to see if you have any broken fencing and make sure that the boundaries are secure,” she says.
“It’s good to teach them what to do and what not to do, but it’s better to remove the temptation to escape altogether as this can overwhelm any instructions they’ve been given.”
“It’s down to us as grown-ups to do some of that thinking for them and, where we can, to keep those really dangerous things away or put some physical barriers in the way.”
- Check for any gaps in fences that little ones could slip out through
It’s very important to be careful when your kids are playing around water, particularly if you they’re under 5 years-old.
“It’s wonderful for kids to be out playing and splashing around in the paddling pool, but you need to remember young children can get into difficulty in water that’s really quite shallow,” says Katrina.
“The best advice, particularly if you’ve got babies or toddlers, would be that you need to keep a really close eye on them and supervise them,” she says.
“It can be tempting if you have an older child to say ‘keep an eye on your sister’ so that you can quickly do something else,” she adds. “If you really can’t stay around, it’s better to just scoop them up in a towel and take them with you, rather than leaving them there by themselves or trusting them with another child.”
“Although it takes time to fill up paddling pools, if you have younger children, it’s actually safer to tip the water out and then fill it again the next day or once you’re there to supervise,” she says.
What if I have a pond?
Don’t worry if you have a pond in your garden, there are things you can do to make sure your nippers stay safe around the water.
“There’s a firm surfacing you can buy to cover ponds, says Katrina. “What you could do, if you like, is turn your pond into a sand pit for a couple of years,” says Katrina.
- Don’t leave kids unattended near ponds, paddling pools or water
If your little ones have lots of exciting toys to play and climb on, there are a few things to think about.
“Remember, the toys should all have been designed with child safety in mind, so lots of thought has gone into making sure they don’t present a hazard to children,” says Katrina.
“It’s a sensible precaution to put them on grass rather than concrete if you can,” she says. “Make sure the grass is fairly well watered so that it isn’t hard, so if they take a bit of a tumble, they’re less likely to hurt themselves.”
“You can also buy stuff that will absorb some of the impact and put this underneath, but this is a more permanent feature in the garden.”
The garden equipment most associated with children’s injuries in the garden are trampolines. “You do need a safety net around one, and it’s good to have some house rules about the numbers allowed on the trampoline,” says Katrina.
“It’s also important that adults don’t go on the trampoline at the same time as small children,” she says. “Often injuries happen because you’ve got an imbalance between a small child and a grown up, and the young child can be propelled off the trampoline or up into the air.”
“It isn’t that you can’t have fun on them, but it is about having a few rules about keeping big grown ups and little children separate,” she explains.
- Stick to the trampoline rules so everyone can have fun safely
Barbeque safety tips
It’s easy to forget about safety when you’re busy having fun in the garden, especially if you’re having a barbeque.
“It’s easy to forget just how long BBQs can stay hot after you’ve finished using them,” says Katrina.
“It’s best to keep younger children away from them, because they can be tempted to touch them.”
The best way to make sure the BBQ is out of harms way is to place the BBQ away from where kids are going to be playing. ”You don’t want exuberant kids running around having fun around the BBQ, because if one of them runs into it they could get quite a nasty burn,” says Katrina.
- Keep BBQ’s away from where your kids are playing
Keep garden chemicals out of reach
If you are worried about the chemicals like weed or insect killer in your garden, there are a few simple things you need to remember.
Kristin explains: “It’s fine to use those things as long as you’re following the instructions, so if it says keep children out of the area for 24 hours after you’ve treated it, make sure that you do.”
Where and how you store the chemicals is also very important. Katrina explains you should think about what might be lurking in your garden shed and make sure that children can’t get into it.
“If they can get into the shed because you are in and out of the door, just remember to put the chemicals somewhere out of reach of young children,” she adds.
It’s a good idea to resist the temptation to decant chemicals into smaller bottles, as this can be confusing to children.
“When buying products, look for chemicals that have had a bittering agent added, which makes it taste disgusting, so they children can’t help but spit it out.”
- Garden chemicals should be kept out of reach of small hands
It is very rare for children to be poisoned by plants in the garden, but there are some plants that you should look out for.
“Teach your children not to eat anything that’s growing in the garden unless you tell them it’s ok to do so,” says Katrina.
If you are planting new greenery in your garden, it’s a good idea to find out what plants are safe before you plant them. “You can get information on which plants to avoid around children and then, if you can, avoid plants or berries that might be poisonous,” she adds.
Find out more about kids safety around plants in the garden.
- Teach kids not to eat anything growing in the garden
What if my child does have an accident?
It’s easy to panic if your tot takes a tumble, but don’t fret most of the injuries that take place in the garden are minor and are usually not something to worry about.
“Injuries where you’d want to seek medical advice would be if your child falls and there’s a possibility of concussion,” Katrina advises.
You would also want to seek medical attention if your child has what appears to be a serious burn. “It’s generally thought that if a burn on a child is larger than the size of a 2p piece then it’s important to seek medical attention,” she says.
- Stay calm and use common sense to assess an injury