An Australian news website published an article stating how bees and ants are more dangerous than snakes, spiders and jellyfish when it comes to backyard injuries. Even small inflatable swimming pools can result in the death of a child as a two-year-old boy north of Brisbane did not survive after being retrieved from an inflatable pool. Home is supposed to be a safe haven with the backyard being a place of refuge for children to play with minimal risks. However, the injuries associated from everything from trampolines to bee stings tell a different story. Here are four ways to keep your kids safer when playing in the yard.
Prevent Wildlife Injuries
You should regularly inspect your backyard for dangerous and unwanted wildlife. The few bees and wasps that may visit your flowers for nectar or your pool for a drink are not much of a problem unless your child is allergic to their venom. However, a nest of angry hornets or a hidden nest of ground bees can kill a child, pet or adult in a defensive attack. Venomous jumper ants are an issue in Tasmania, and Sydney funnel-web spiders are aggressive when they feel threatened. A backyard inspection completed by a certified exterminator can help reduce the risks of encounters with dangerous wildlife, and an exterminator can suggest ways of making your back yard less inviting to these species.
Small water features, such as fountains and ponds, along with any sort of swimming pool or spa tub are a drowning risk. Even if your children can swim well, falls into the water can result in unconsciousness and drowning. Hot tubs should have sturdy locking covers installed. The covers should be able to support the weight of a person. Fountains and ponds present a drowning and electrocution risk. Direct supervision of children who have access to them is necessary. Permanently installed swimming pools should have a secure fence, such as those you can get from Diamond Fence (Aust) and locked gate in place to control access.
Protect From Fall Injuries
Outdoor play equipment can be deadly if not designed and installed correctly. Any stationary equipment your child can play on and fall from should have a surrounding soft layer to help absorb impact. Soft mulch that is regularly raked to keep it from being compressed is probably the softest surface material for use around outdoor play equipment. Sand that is prevented from being compacted is another option. Even smooth pea gravel that is loose and not compacted offers some cushioning in a fall. All screw and bolt heads on outdoor play equipment should be capped or rounded to prevent snags and cuts. Spaces between vertical and horizontal bars should not exceed the maximum permitted by local codes to prevent children from getting their heads stuck.
Protect From Dangerous Plants and Chemicals
Poison ivy, sumac and oak are not likely to be in the groomed section of your backyard. However, it can pop up just about anywhere. It is a contact risk with some children needing to take oral steroids to recover from the swelling and rash. Worse than plants that can cause skin reactions from contact are ones that can cause physical injuries. Rose bushes and xeriscaping with various succulents such as barrel or jumping cholla cacti can cause punctures and cuts. Also, branches fall from trees sooner or later. Keeping backyard trees properly pruned can prevent serious injuries and even death. Lawn, plant and insect chemicals each have their own risks. Thoroughly read and heed the instruction and warning labels as none of the chemicals are inherently safe with some being highly toxic and able to be absorbed through the skin.
Take some time inspecting your back yard for potential risks. Look up, down and all around. Consider the plants and what you do or have done to weed and feed them. Bird and rodent droppings are viral and bacterial pathogen risks, and all mammalian wildlife from baby raccoons to a feral house cat can spread rabies if infected. No space can be made 100 percent safe for children, but a little thought, foresight and common sense should go into protecting the backyard they play in.