Of the top five causes of death for children under four years old, most of them happen outside but near your home! Here are some tips on how to make the outdoors child-safe.
Pools and Spas
The good news is that the overall death rate from unintentional injuries declined by 55.4% from 1987 to 2010. The bad news is that drowning remains the number one cause of accidental deaths in children in the 1-4 age group according to the Center for Disease Control.
This makes it imperative that you have a fence around the swimming pool – in fact, in many states a fence is required by law. The BOCA Code sets the standards for Pool Fence child safety. Make sure the fence is safe: designed for pool areas, no rough edges, sharp, pointed places, or toxic coatings. In addition, gates in pool and spa areas should be self closing and self locking to prevent children from entering with out supervision.
Have a spa? It should be fenced off from curious climbers too! The consequences of not protecting children from these “water hazards” are almost unbearable…
Motor Vehicle and Pedestrian Accidents
Keeping young children in your yard and out of the street is imperative, of course. Install a fence around your yard with a childproof lock on the gate so they can play outside (still with supervision) but away from the street. A fence also prevents neighborhood dogs from entering the play area.
Fencing your maybe-too-big pet dog away from the baby (just in case) can prevent accidents of the canine kind. Never leave a baby outside unattended! We actually had a coyote attack a toddler in our decidedly urban neighborhood.
Fires and Burns
Keep the babes away from the barbecue and outdoor fireplace. Install spark arresters and screens to shield the pops and snaps from wood-burning fires. Alternately, invest in gas fireplaces to eliminate problems with wayward sparks, but still be sure to provide a barrier to discourage curious, tiny fingers.
Do you have a storage shed or garage where you stash “everyday” chemicals such as paint thinner, pool acid, or garden nutrients, or maybe enticing, but dangerous hand tools?
Depending on your property setup, consider a fence for extra fortification for the little ones around sheds and such, but also near wells, barns, and work areas, especially if you’re in a rural setting.
Mount locks on doors leading into sheds, garages, etc. Put those plastic plug covers on electrical outlets, and do a short-person hands-and-knees search just like you did inside your house to look for hidden dangers.
Keeping children safe should be a priority for every adult whether the children are yours or your neighbors. Share this information with others to help spread the word.