Your child will probably spend a significant amount of time in the yard. Supervision for young children playing in a yard is very important. If possible, your yard should be fenced. Many of the hazards in a yard result from poor yard maintenance. Young children especially will try to put anything they find into their mouths. Take a good look around, and put away or fix any hazards you find.
- Fences are a great idea to help keep your children in the yard, and other children and animals out. They can be a great assistance in helping to prevent children from gaining access to the street. But you have to remember that children can climb fences. Children can also open gates, so there is no guarantee that your children will not leave a fenced yard.
- Identify the types of plants you have in the yard to determine if they are poisonous. Once you know what they are, you can call the Poison Control Center in your area to see if they are in fact poisonous (see Poisoning, Chapter Four).
- Don’t allow your children to play in areas where you have just used horticultural sprays or powders. Some lawn and garden products are highly toxic, with toddlers and pets at highest risk during their frolics in the grass. Read and heed the manufacturer’s warnings concerning fertilizers, insecticides, and weed killers.
- Cut sharp branches which are at eye level or lower. Eyes have been poked out when children have run into such hazards.
- Clean up pet droppings as soon as possible. Cover your sandbox. You don’t want your children digging up the neighborhood cat feces.
- Clean up cigarette butts. They are not healthy for children or anyone else.
- Make garbage cans inaccessible; they not only cause odor but they also harbor bacteria.
- Make sure nails, screws, and other sharp objects are picked up. This could prevent a trip to the hospital for your child or yourself.
- Take a good look at your deck to see if there are places where small heads could become entrapped.
- If you have a wood pile, be sure it is stable and won’t fall down on a child. Children sometimes find these piles fascinating places to play.
- Make sure that neither bees nor wasps are building a nest in the wood pile or anywhere else in your yard. Fatalities have resulted when children and adults have unintentionally stumbled upon a wasp nest.
- If you have a backyard fire pit, make sure your children and other children visiting respect fire and stay clear of the fire pit.
- When barbecues are in use, they are hot! Make sure your children will not be able to come into contact with a barbecue in use. Keep them at a safe distance.
- More than two-thirds of the children injured by lawn mowers were bystanders; more than three-quarters of those hurt required amputation (mostly toes and feet), according to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.
- Lawn mowers can pick up and throw stones, nails, pieces of wire, or other debris at a very high rate of speed. Keep your children away from the danger by keeping them away from the lawn mower until they are old enough to understand how dangerous it can be.
- Similar dangers to those encountered with lawn mowers are present when you are using hedge trimmers and snow-blowers. Keep children and all bystanders well away from flying debris.
- Falls from trees are a common injury in back yards. Unintentional hangings can also happen. Do not let children play with ropes around trees.
Copyright 1995 Safety Health Publishing Inc.
Martin Lesperance is a fire fighter / paramedic and best selling author of the book "Kids for Keeps: Preventing Injuries to Children". Martin speaks across North America on the topic of injury prevention. His talks are humorous, but still have a strong underlying safety message. For more information, call him at (403) 225 – 2011 or visit his website at www.safete.com.