Summer is the optimal time for families to take advantage of their backyards. Being
able to head outside without leaving the home allows families to play games, catch
fireflies, dig in the garden, and enjoy a range of other activities.
Safety is key, however, when we’re spending time outdoors. The last thing anyone
wants is for our backyard adventures to require any medical care. With that in mind, here are some tips that can help you make your backyard the safest play area
● Always set boundaries and supervise children. It’s important to help
children understand how far they can and cannot go when spending time
outside. Granted, this is easier if you have fences! But no matter what, it’s
important to teach children to play within a set area. It’s also important to
keep at least one adult in the yard, particularly for kids 8 years-old and under.
● Check for poisonous plants. Plants are one of the leading causes of
poisoning among children, especially preschoolers. You can use Google or
contact your local Poison Help Line to figure out which poisonous greens
grow in your specific area. If you do find any poisonous plants, it is best to
remove them altogether.
● Teach children to never eat straight from the backyard. Even after
checking for poisonous plants, it’s best to teach children not to eat anything in
the backyard – not even berries or flowers. Even if you maintain a garden, it’s
important to make sure children don’t eat any produce prior to it being
● Beware of lawn care. If you treat your backyard or garden with pesticides
or herbicides, be sure to follow any exposure instructions that come with the
product you buy. Generally, it’s recommended that parents prohibit children
from playing on a treated lawn for at least forty-eight hours. Additionally, it’s
recommended that children stay inside when you mow the lawn, as lawn
mowers can kick up debris that may injure a child.
● BBQ with caution. When cooking outdoors, families need to make sure
children understand that BBQs are as dangerous to touch as a stove. Parents
should supervise a grill at all times, and ensure that any propane tanks
are stored in a place where children cannot touch them.
● Stay away from heights. Falls are the leading cause of injury among
children and should be considered when spending time outside. Treehouses
should never be set higher than 10 feet above the ground. If your yard
includes a swing set, treehouse, or other playground-type equipment, you
should layer 12 inches of wood chips or mulch beneath them to reduce the
shock of a fall. Teach children to never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines,
or pet leashes to play equipment, as they can become a strangulation hazard.
Finally, as fun as they may be, injury experts recommend not having any kind
of trampoline in your backyard - they’re just not worth the risk.
● Be careful with insect repellent. Mosquitos, biting flies, and ticks can be
quite an annoyance for children in the summer. While most bug bites only
cause mild reactions, there are still instances where children can develop a
serious illness that requires medical attention. It’s important to protect your child from insects, but still do so with caution. DEET, a chemical found in some of the strongest repellents, should not be used on children younger than 2 months. Never spray it on wounds, cuts, or irritated skin, and keep it away from your child’s eyes and mouth. Also, read the label to make sure your repellent doesn’t contain more than 30% of DEET.
These guidelines can make any backyard that much safer and more
enjoyable for families and their children! If you are seeking additional
advice on how to safely enjoy the season, please contact your Capital Area
Pediatrics physician. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician, find
your nearest location and contact us today!