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Child Safety

Backyard Safety for Children

​​​Playing outside is important as it helps​ with a child’s development and well-being. It also provides exercise. Watching your child while they are playing in the backyard is important, because backyards can be full of dangers. You can prevent injuries by making sure the yard is safe for kids.

Dangers in the backyard may involve play equipment, swimming pools, barbeques, lawnmowers, and poisonings.

Did you know?
  • Falls are the leading cause of playground injuries. Fall from high places and onto hard surfaces can cause serious injuries. Strangulation is the most common cause of playground death.
  • Children are attracted to fire, and summer brings an increase in burn injuries from outdoor grills.
  • Almost all trampoline injuries to children involve backyard trampolines.
  • There was no adult watching the child in 42% of the childhood drownings in the past 10 years.
  • Proper supervision, safe environments, hazard awareness, and participating in age-appropriate activities all help reduce the risk of injury to children in their own or in someone else’s backyard.

    ​​​​​Managing the Risks

    To help manage risks in the backyard: Look First and Get Trained.

    Supervising a child during play can help prevent injury. Supervision is recommended until the child reaches 12 years of age.

    Here are some tips:

    • Always have a responsible person watching young children while they play in the backyard
    • Watch children play on backyard playgrounds. Be physically near them while they use play equipment or are near or in pools or hot tubs.

    Remember

    Stay close enough that you can take action if needed. Stay alert, pay close attention, and anticipate hazards

    ​​​​​Survey the Yard

    • ​Make sure all fence gates are self-closing and self-latching.
    • Have a fence separate the play area from the driveway and garage.
    • Block all balcony stairs with gates that self-close and lock.

    ​​​​​Lawn Sprinklers/Water Slides

    • Use only on grass.
    • Make sure the area is free of obstacles and debris.
    • Teach children to slide sitting up and not to walk or run on water slides.

    ​​​​​Trampolines

    Do not use backyard trampolines. Jumping on the trampoline is a high risk activity with the potential for significant injury to children and youth. Alberta Health Services and The Canadian Pediatric Society recommend that parents not buy or use trampolines at home (including cottages and summer residences) for children and youth.

    The risk of the trampoline is in the use of the trampoline. ​Parents may think that safety nets, most often sold with trampolines to prevent people from falling off, will reduce this risk, but in reality, fewer than 30% of trampoline injuries are caused by children falling off the trampoline.

    ​​​​​Sandboxes

    • ​Check sandboxes regularly to make sure they are in good repair, with no protruding nails or splintered wood.
    • A sandbox cover is recommended, especially if pets roam freely in your neighbourhood.
    • Cover the sandbox at night.

    ​​​​​Lawn Darts

    Lawn darts are banned in Canada. Properly discard or destroy all lawn darts immediately.

    ​​​​​Swimming/Wading Pools/Hot Tubs

    • Never leave children unattended in or near water.
    • Empty and turn over anything that could pose a drowning hazard (e.g., wading pools, pails). Children can drown in as little as 2.5cm (1 inch) of water.
    • Fence all backyard swimming pools. The fence should be at least 1.2m (4 feet) high and have a self-latching, self-closing gate.
    • Hot tubs should be covered with a hard cover and locked when not in use.
    • Empty and turn over anything that could be a drowning risk (wading pools, pails). Children can drown in as little as 2.5cm (1 inch) of water.
    • ​​​​​Playground Equipment

      Safe playground surfaces include loose fill materials like gravel, natural rock, sand, and rubber crumb, as well as unitary manufactured materials like pour-in-place. Grass and dirt are NOT safe playground surfaces.

      • Actively supervise all young children. This means you need to stay close enough that you can take action if needed. Stay alert, pay close attention, and anticipate hazards.
      • Remove drawstrings and scarves from children’s clothing.
      • Properly secure equipment to the ground.
      • Set up backyard swings and other play equipment on a shock-absorbing surface (e.g., sand, wood chips or pea gravel).
      • Put railings around all decks that are more than 1m (3.3 feet) off the ground.
      • Limit height of the equipment to less than 1.8m (6 feet). A general rule is: if the child cannot reach the equipment on their own, they should not be on it.
      • Check equipment for gaps, worn, loose or broken parts.
      • Teach children the basic rules of safe play.
        • Always wear shoes.
        • Remove bike helmets when on equipment.
        • Slide down feet first and sitting up. One person on the slide at a time.
        • No pushing or horseplay on play equipment.
        • Wait your turn.
        • Hold on with both hands when swinging and climbing.

      ​Poisoning

      • Store all chemicals away from children. Cleaner, gas, pesticides and fertilizer can be poisonous and should be out of sight in a a locked area.
      • Have only non-toxic plants in your yard.
      • If you think you may have put a poisonous plant in your yard, you can check with Poison Centre: PADIS (Poison & Drug Information Service).
      • Make sure you have the Poison Centre number ready in a place you can find it easy.

      ​​​​​Lawnmowers/Power Equipment

      • Keep children out of the yard while mowing the lawn.
      • Do not allow passengers on a riding lawnmower.
      • Turn off the mower if children enter the mowing area.
      • Ensure power tools are turned off and left inoperable if they must be left unattended, even for a short time.

      ​​​​​Barbecue (BBQ) Basics

      • Properly lock up barbecue grills, propane tanks, lighter fluid, barbecue lighters, matches, and charcoal.
      • Buy only barbecues that bear the CSA, ITS or ULC labels.
      • Never light a BBQ with lighter fluid. Use a lighter.
      • Clean, maintain and regularly check the BBQ.
      • Use BBQ away from object that can burn (e.g.decks, wood ​balconies, plants, plastic or paper).
      • Keep children away from the BBQ.
      • Always have a fire extinguisher, baking soda and water available to put out a fire.
      • Don’t cook indoors with a BBQ (e.g., garages, sheds).
      • Be sure the gas is turned off and the flames are out when you are finished. Close the lid to prevent reigniting.

      Injuries are not accidents…they are predictable and preventable!

Current as of: March 13, 2017

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services