With the feeling that spring has most definitely sprung and we all want to get outside with our children Parental Choice is looking at family garden safety.
Gardens can be fun places, especially for families. Whether you enjoy planting flowers and vegetables, kicking a ball around, eating or just spending time outside, gardens are good places to be. But with all the fun, there can also be a degree of danger and accident risk – especially for families.
Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to help to reduce the risks to your family, leading the way to being able to enjoy your garden and create long-lasting memories.
Family garden safety for adults
There are some responsibilities that any parent who has a garden needs to undertake to ensure that it is safe.
- Mow your lawn regularly and keep your garden tidy – but bear in mind that using a lawnmower is potentially dangerous. Experts at Mowers Online state that “there are many potential injuries and damages that can happen to you and your surroundings when mowing the lawn, including trips, falls, lawn damages etc.” So, follow the safety instructions for any garden tools or machinery that you have.
- Make sure that you are continually teaching your children (and practising what you are teaching) about garden safety.
- Ensure that your children don’t play near your whilst you are using dangerous tools or machinery.
Keeping your garden safe for Babies and Small Children
- Before they can get around, keeping your garden safe for babies is pretty straightforward. However, once they are mobile, that’s a whole new kettle of fish.
- Make sure that your fences are kept secure and any gaps blocked up. If you have a hedge, you need to ensure that there is no way that your child can get through it.
- Make sure that if you have a gate, it is locked or that it is unable to be opened by little fingers. Try moving the lock out of reach or use one that is difficult to be opened.
- Ensure that your borders are trimmed back, so that they don’t obstruct the pathways. Thorns and stinging nettles can cause harm to children – especially as their eye level is lower down – as can over hanging plants which could be a trip hazard to little toddlers.
- If you have a pond, make sure that you are with your child at all times when nearby. Try to teach them about the dangers of the pond – and how to behave around it. If you feel it necessary, fence them off, or cover it with netting or chicken wire.
- Some plants are poisonous to both people and animals. It is best to avoid these plants if you have babies around, but if you need them, plant them in difficult to reach places, and still make sure that you teach your children that some plants are poisonous and cannot be eaten.
- We all know about babies will put everything they come into contact with into their mouth. Don’t use any chemicals or weed killer on grass or plants that your child is going to be near. Not only could it be ‘eaten’, it can also rub off onto hands or clothes which could then be put into mouths.
- Make sure that any weed killers or chemicals that you have are locked away and stored out of the reach of children.
- Try to eliminate broken paving slabs or other trip hazards.
- Avoid gravel as this can be a choking hazard for babies.
Family garden safety for children
Your child will have varying degrees of risk awareness depending on their age.
- Teach your children about the dangers of going out onto the street on their own.
- Keep play equipment like climbing frames or playhouses on the grass and away from concrete floors, and ensure that they are safe to use.
- Keep other garden toys tidied away to avoid trips.
- Keep DIY tools and other garden equipment safely locked away – even if you’re just having a break. These can be interpreted as toys by a lot of children but can be extremely dangerous.
- Remember to teach your children about the dangers of going near fires or BBQs.
- If you are eating outside, consider using plastic cups and crockery. Shards of glass are notoriously difficult for adults to spot – and easy for children!
Pet-proofing your Garden
Pets can play a valuable part of family life. However, it is important to ensure that your garden is also safe for them.
- Pets don’t know what substances are harmful or not, so keep any chemicals or other substances locked away.
- Put away any machinery with sharp edges so that curious pets don’t harm themselves.
Gardens are great for enjoying time outside, but also for learning about and inspiring interest in nature. Whilst it is important to make the most of what your garden has to offer, it is also important to ensure that it is a safe place for everyone.
Ella Hendrix is a versatile freelance writer, currently covering articles on family psychology, elderly care children’s behaviour. In her spare time, you will find her head in a book or sipping on a peppermint tea.