A Secure and Active Summer: Your Guide to Outdoor Safety
Guest Author: Jenny Wise
Kids today need physical activity more than ever. With summer nearly here, it’s natural for children to head outside for backyard play, swimming, hiking, camping, boating, fishing and other activities. It’s that time of year when parents are shooing kids outside for exercise in the fresh air after untold hours in front of gaming consoles during the winter months.
In their eagerness and excitement, kids can easily get injured if an adult, whether it’s your backyard or a nearby playground, hasn’t carefully inspected their play environment. There are many precautions you can take to make sure the kids’ summer gets off to a good start.
Keep It Picked Up
Be certain that all gardening equipment and any objects used to work on the outside of your home have been picked up and put away in the garage or tool shed. It can be hard to remember if you forgot to put away an object last fall that could cause injury, so go through your yard with a fine tooth comb before turning the youngsters loose in the yard. Make sure that your tool storage area is locked and inaccessible to little ones. If you’re heading to a playground, make sure play equipment is not on cement or a paved surface. Your kids should be swinging, climbing and sliding on a surface of recycled rubber, mulch or sand.
Backyards are often havens for plants that can cause nasty rashes, like poison oak or ivy, or that contain toxins that can be life threatening if ingested. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dangerous plants website can show you what to look out for and what plants should be destroyed as soon as possible. You can also fence or block off any part of the yard with vegetation that could cause problems.
Take Care with Lawn Care Chemicals
Always keep kids off the grass for at least 48 hours after using fertilizers or pesticides. Children should never be playing in the lawn when such materials are being applied. Physical contact with chemicals can produce dangerous effects including skin lesions, headaches, breathing problems, and allergic reactions.
Swimming may be the number one attraction for children during the summer. If you have a backyard pool, there should be a security fence encircling the pool, including a gate that should always be locked unless an adult is outside supervising. Consider installing an alarm system in case someone tries to sneak into the pool area, as well as outdoor lights with motion-activated sensors. Young children must always wear safety vests (quality life vests are available online for $53.37) when in the water and never run around the pool, or try to jump into the water from an unsafe height. Small toys, buckets, balls and inflatable items should be stored in a secure area where they won’t present a tripping hazard. Observe these rules when visiting a public pool or private swim club.
Pay close attention to the play equipment you set up outside. It should be anchored in a soft play surface and have no sharp edges or protruding bolts or edges. You should always select a swing set model based on your children’s age and weight level. Consider having a new swing set professionally installed to prevent inadvertent mistakes that could cause injuries. In this case, you could hire a local handyman for the installation. The average cost of hiring a handyman ranges from $159 to $611.
If you have a dog, kids can have an unfortunate encounter with your pooch’s waste product and leave a very smelly trail behind throughout the house. Keep your lawn clear of pet waste and make sure the sandbox is covered so that birds and cats don’t turn it into their private toilet. Watch also for dead animal remains, such as birds, mice or squirrels, which inquisitive children may not be able to resist exploring.
Summer should be a carefree time of fun and exploration for your children. Be vigilant and responsive to potential dangers in your yard, on the playground and around the pool. The more you can keep things picked up, locked away and secured outside, the less you’ll have to worry about the kids getting hurt.
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