It’s common for parents to focus on childproofing the inside of their homes, but it’s equally important to childproof their outdoor spaces.
It’s essential to childproof a yard from the more obvious dangers, such as a swimming pool, water features, or the child escaping from the backyard. However, the outside is dangerous to young children for many reasons that are easy to overlook, such as toxic plants, choking hazards, sharp corners, and more.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the top 10 easy ways to childproof a yard so that you can keep your loved ones safe and have peace of mind.
10 Easy Ways to Childproof Your Yard
Establish a Safe Area With Playground Toys
Create a child-friendly, safe place in your yard where your small children can gather with minimal risk. Make this area fun and exciting for your children by having a sandbox or a place with your kids’ favorite toys or playground equipment.
Make sure that you place the play area and any play structures in your direct line of vision, with no obstructions, to easily monitor your children while sitting on your porch or gardening.
Implement Pest Control Measures
Many children are interested in bugs, leading to an interest in observing, touching, and even chasing bugs and other pests they may come across in your yard.
As a result, it’s in your best interest to protect your backyard from pests for your children’s safety and avoid the many problems that pests can bring.
Start by identifying any pest problems you may have, such as wasps or hornets, which may be chased by children, resulting in painful stings. Spray natural, child-safe pesticides to treat existing pest problems and take preventative measures, like never leaving your food outside and securing your garbage can. Citronella candles, bug repellents, and bug nests are natural options to protect your children from mosquitoes and other stinging insects.
Put Away Garden Chemicals
Many garden chemicals, like fertilizers, are great for nurturing your plants and garden. Unfortunately, many are hazardous to animals and humans. Young children are especially susceptible to left-out chemicals because it’s natural for them to explore the world around them through touch and taste.
Keep all garden chemicals and other chemicals you may use in your yard, such as ice melt, safe in child safety containers in a locked cabinet. If possible, place these high up in your garage or locked in a ventilated shed.
We also recommend checking for kid-friendly alternatives to your current garden chemicals. Natural and child-safe options may be available to replace some of our current favorites. These are often easier on the environment and safer for your pets too.
Put Away All Tools
Never leave your child unattended with tools left out. Many tools are sharp and can seriously injure a child. Other devices, such as lawnmowers, may seem harmless but can hurt a child if they fall on their foot or head.
Don’t take any chances with your tools. Ensure that they’re locked inside a tool kit, garage, or shed whenever they’re not in use to prevent accidents. Teach your children never to touch your garden tools as your tools are not toys and can hurt them.
If your little one shows an interest in gardening from a young age, consider investing in garden sets designed for children so that they can dig alongside you safely.
Practice Fire Safety
Outdoor fireplaces, barbeques, and fire pits add a beautiful glow to any backyard area. However, fire can quickly spread if a fire pit is knocked over or seriously harm a child if they touch it.
Reduce the risk of fire hazards by only burning dry hardwoods, such as oak, ash, and hickory, because these smoke and spark less than other types of firewood. Install a fire spark screen to prevent sparks from starting a fire nearby.
After roasting s’mores or watching the stars, completely douse the embers and spread the remains thinly when you saturate them to ensure that the fire is completely out. If you’re concerned about fire safety, consider using a gas fire pit, which burns cleaner than a typical wood-burning model.
Practice and demonstrate proper fire safety with your children at all times by taking precautions and explaining fire danger. Always keep a first aid kit ready to treat burns or other injuries.
Trim Any Trees or Bushes
This next safety tip is not just for kids but for everyone who spends time in your backyard.
Seasonal weather changes can weaken tree limbs and bushes other times, even if they look healthy otherwise. When weakened, these plants are at a greater risk of their branches breaking, possibly causing injuries if the branch falls on you or your children.
Don’t take this chance. Regularly prune and trim your tree branches. If you have thick tree branches that require chainsaw operation to trim, consider hiring a professional to complete this project safely and efficiently.
We also recommend that you avoid planting poisonous plants that your children or pets may eat.
Put Fencing Around a Pool
According to the Pool Safety Foundation, young children can drown in as little as 25 seconds. Even non-fatal drownings can result in severe brain damage and other long-lasting health issues, so securing your pool is critical to your children’s safety and health. On top of this, 69% of young children who drown were not supposed to be swimming or near water, so installing childproof barriers around your pool is crucial to avoid unexpected accidents.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends using layers of protection to childproof your pool. Start with a solid 4 feet or taller fence around your pool. Look for pool fences with self-latching and self-closing gates to increase security. If your pool is aboveground, remove, lock, or secure the steps and ladder whenever the pool is not in use.
If your house is part of the barrier or fence around your home, install a pool alarm or a power safety cover over your pool to prevent accidents in case your child leaves your home and enters the pool area. Sliding glass doors should never be relied upon to keep your child inside and safe.
If you have other water features in your yard, such as a hot tub, birdbath, fountain, or fish pond, make sure these are also fenced off or covered to protect young children from drowning.
Practice and Preach Pool Safety
Teach your children pool safety by regularly discussing pool safety with them and demonstrating these rules yourself.
Always take the following pool safety precautions:
- Only swim with another adult around.
- Never enter a pool headfirst unless your pool has a safe, deep diving area.
- Supervise your children and others without distraction (no alcohol, book, cell phone use, etc.)
- Never swim while intoxicated.
- Don’t swim near openings or drains that cause suction.
- Know what to do if someone is in trouble in the pool – teach children to call for help and about 911.
It’s also strongly recommended that children who are old enough are given swimming lessons so that they can safely enter the water, stay afloat, get out of the pool, etc.
Remove Tripping Hazards
Our yards are constantly changing throughout the seasons, between tree branches falling, leaves shedding, and the various tools that we may have out to water, prune, or clean up our yards.
Frequently survey your backyard for potential tripping hazards to help your children and other adults avoid hurting themselves. Here are some common ones to look out for:
- Cracks in cement or stone patios, steps, or walkways
- Garden hoses or garden supplies
- All tools
- A fallen fence
- Tree branches
- Rotting deck
- Patio furniture knocked over by the wind
Immediately take care of any tripping hazards that you can pick up and call or purchase products to fix other problems, like cracks or rot, to keep your backyard safer.
Survey for Sharp Edges
It’s no surprise that children love running, climbing, and playing. So, take a moment to assess your backyard for sharp edges. Sharp corners on outdoor furniture, railing, or architecture can quickly become a painful or even bloody accident if they’re run into hard enough.
Soften these sharp edges by adding padding and cushion to your patio furniture or swapping hard furniture for soft ottomans. You can also use plants to cover metal walls or other hard surfaces around your backyard.
A backyard is a place filled with joy, magic, and excitement for children. Avoid becoming a helicopter parent when your child is outside by taking safety precautions to childproof your yard and prevent injuries. You’ll be able to relax more when you’re outside with your kids, and your children can run around and enjoy themselves in the beautiful sunshine.
This list may seem immense, so start by thinking about the biggest dangers in your yard and what can be done immediately, such as purchasing a pool cover, removing dangerous tools, and adding cushions to your furniture. Then, work on long-term safety measures, like teaching your children to swim, fire and tool safety, and respecting insects, rather than chasing after them.