Child-Proof Your Yard – Four Tips for Outdoor Safety
Guest Post By: Maria Cannon
According to the CDC, 8,000 children a day are taken to emergency rooms due to fall-related injuries. Many of these happen at home, particularly in the summer months when windows are open and children play outside. However, falls are not the only risk in the backyard – pests, infections, and standing water can also be issues. If your children are eager to get outside to enjoy the season, here are four tips that will help you childproof your backyard.
Repair Your Window Screening
Make sure your window screening is secure – in particular, make sure all magnets are in place and replace any worn velcro. If you have any holes in your screens, patch them up. Martha Stewart’s site explains how to do this. First, cut an area of the screen a little larger than the hole. Next, apply quick-dry glue around the edge of the hole and put the patch in place. Finally, use painter’s tape to apply pressure until the glue dries. If you only have a small hole, you can just fill the gap with instant adhesive on nylon screens, or epoxy in metal screens.
Although window screens keep insects out, and many will keep pets in, very few are child-safe. Even metal screens screwed into the window frame can fall through if a child puts their full weight against it. Consider adding safety latches or smart locks to all windows that children can reach.
Keep Shrubs and Hedges Trimmed
The larger a hedge or shrub has grown, the more insects it will contain. Larger populations of pests present a greater risk because if they migrate to your house, they can quickly pose a problem that will require professional intervention. Larger shrubs are also more attractive to vermin because they can nest deeper inside where they are safer from predators. To mitigate these risks, trim the hedges back, and make sure there is a gap of at least 2 feet between the hedge and the walls of your house. You can also lay rocks, pebbles, and gravel between the shrub and your house, as this makes it harder for insects to reach your home.
Remove Standing Water
Standing water in your garden attracts mosquitoes and can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria – and children can drown in as little as two inches of water. Standing water has many potential causes, and so you have many potential solutions. Your lawn should be graded on a slight slope, which will help rainwater drain toward sewer drains. If this is not the case, you can get your lawn re-graded, which may solve the problem. Thatching buildup on the surface of your lawn can prevent water from seeping through – you can solve this by buying or renting a dethatcher. Sometimes the soil under your lawn has been compacted so firmly that water cannot pass through it. This problem can be solved manually – dig down and break up the loose soil. If none of these steps solve the problem, you could have a French drain installed, to direct the water to the sewer drain.
Secure Outdoor Steps
Children will run, climb, grab and generally test the integrity of all structures in your garden, and stairs are no exception, so make sure you secure your outdoor steps. Inconsistent step heights and depths are a common cause of falls on stairs, so make sure each step is consistent. If you have open-backed steps, the height of the gap should be no greater than 4 inches — this will keep children from falling through or getting trapped between the steps. Finally, make sure that the steps are made of strong materials, and that they are secured tightly, with no wobbling or broken boards. As well as the above steps, make sure that you secure any home playground equipment, and put all gardening tools and equipment away after use. This is particularly important for electrical equipment like lawnmowers. If you do all the above, you’ve gone a long way to creating a safe space for your children to play in. Now they can get out and enjoy all the season has to offer.
About the author:
Maria Cannon believes we’re never too young to dedicate ourselves to a hobby. She created HobbyJr to encourage young people to find a hobby they love. Maria has suffered from depression and anxiety for years. Her hobbies–gardening, quilting, sewing, and knitting–play a major role in maintaining her mental health.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.