Every year around 2 million children have accidents and are taken to hospital. Half of these accidents happen in the home or the garden, so it’s crucial that you talk to your children about the dangers in your home and garden especially when it’s summer time and there are more chances to be running round freely. Chances are your children are either barefoot or wearing sandals during summer, which increases the likelihood of accident involving the feet such as stepping on something sharp or something jabbing them in the side of the foot where it is exposed. They’re usually wearing less clothing too, meaning that more of their skin is exposed. This could bring more scratches and abrasions, as well as potential burns too.
That’s just for starters. It’s such a wonderful sight, seeing your children roaming around the house laughing and enjoying the sunshine, but the truth is there are risks everywhere we look. We can’t predict everything that will possibly happen but we can make sure that the obvious ones are taken care of and minimised to ensure our children have a happy and healthy summer. Aside from things like sun hats, sunscreen and regular fluid intake we must be vigilant when we let our children out into the garden after a cold few months. First of all, you should be checking the lawn to see that nothing sharp has migrated in. Even twigs can pose a risk to soft little feet with the right amount of force. Check for stones, other bits of foliage like nettles or thistles that may have grown up through the earth in the colder weather. If your house is the end one, has a public path next to it or your main garden is at the front of your home, check for litter that inconsiderate passers-by may have thrown into your garden.
Ponds are huge culprits in this topic. Children can drown in just two inches of water; in fact any amount of water which covers the child’s nostrils when they are lay face down can cause them to drown. You may think that the pond isn’t deep enough for anyone to drown, so you may not realise, but ponds should always be covered by very strong trellis that won’t bend or buckle under the weight of a fallen child or they should be drained completely if you aren’t really fussed about having it. You could fill it with sand as a natural sandpit to save wasting the hole! The same goes for paddling pools. Always drain the paddling pool after you have finished using it, don’t leave it full of cold water because this then poses the same risks as a pond. Always turn it over if you can’t be bothered deflating it – who can? – so that should any rain fall, it won’t fill the pool up again, bringing the same risks.
Hedges and fences should be checked after winter to make sure they haven’t weakened. Children could easily spot a little gap and crawl through out of curiosity or after a squirrel or something similar, so you need to ensure they cannot do this. Tools should be locked away in sheds, as should chemicals and garden cleaning fluids. Sheds should be locked securely. Check all swings and climbing frame structures before allowing children to hop on after a period of disuse, as the snow and rain as well as the frost could have weakened the structure and the fixtures (the nuts and bolts). Make sure they are sturdy and steady and that the ground around them is soft enough to protect from a fall but not too soft that the foundations of the structure aren’t steadfast. Check all pathways and flagstones, and make sure you look out for any plants that have grown that you don’t recognise. They could be poisonous, so keep your eyes peeled.
You should always make sure, discreetly if you have to, that friends and family take the same precautions as you do with their gardens and outdoor spaces. Make sure that they take safety as seriously as you do. If you get invited to summer parties and BBQs make sure that there are no fluids, matches or firelighters in reach of children and that you don’t send your children to play near where the actual BBQ is placed. If there is an incident of a child or in fact anyone getting burnt, make sure that you remain calm and flood the affected area with cold water for at least ten minutes.
There are so many risks but the most important thing to remember is that if you have your wits about you, you can have so much fun without incident. Children are not children for long, so make sure you take care of all the safety issues beforehand so that you can concentrate on making lots of lovely memories!