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Backyard safety for children

​​​​Playing outside keeps your child active, helps with their development, and is good for their well-being. It’s important to make sure your backyard is a safe place to play.

What could be dangerous in the backyard?

Here are some backyard dangers to know about:
  • Falls (such as from up high or onto a hard surface) are the main cause of injuries when children play outside. 
  • Drawstrings on clothing can catch on play equipment, tighten around a child’s neck and strangle them. 
  • Outdoor grills and barbeques put a child at risk of getting badly burned.
  • Hot tubs and pools put children at risk of drowning.
  • Backyard trampolines can cause serious injuries to children.
How can I help keep my child safe in the backyard?

You can do many things to help keep your child safe when they play.

Check your child's clothing

  • Take all drawstrings and cords out of your child’s clothes.
  • In cold weather, have children wear a neck warmer, not a scarf. 
  • Take the hoods off your child’s clothes, or make sure the hood will come off if it gets caught on something.
Check the yard for dangers

  • Make sure all gates are self-closing and self-latching.
  • Have a fence separating the play area from the driveway and garage.
  • Block all balcony stairs with gates that self-close and lock.
  • Store anything that could be poisonous (such as cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, pesticides, and fertilizers) in its original container and locked up high, out of sight, and out of reach of your child. 
  • If you do use pesticides or herbicides on your lawn, don’t let your child play in the area for at least 48 hours.
  • Have only non-toxic plants in your yard. 

Supervise your child

Supervising a child during play can help prevent injury. Actively watching your child gives them a chance to explore and develop but not get seriously hurt. 
  • Watch young children play on backyard play equipment. Stay close enough that you can take action if needed.
  • Set safety rules, especially in or around pools or hot tubs.
  • Teach your child never to put leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts, or berries in their mouth without asking an adult. Call the Poison and Drug Information Service at 1-800-332-1414 if you think your child has been poisoned.
How can I make backyard items and play equipment safer for my child?

Here are things you can do to make backyard items and equipment safer and lower your child’s risk of injury. 

Pools, hot tubs, and wading pools

  • Never leave your child alone in or near water.
  • Put a fence around all backyard pools. The fence should be at least 1.2 metres (4 feet) high, with 4 sides and a self-latching, self-closing gate.
  • Cover hot tubs with a hard cover that locks.
  • Empty and turn over anything that holds water and could be a drowning risk, such as wading pools and pails. Children can drown in as little as 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) of water.


  • ​Do not buy or use backyard trampoline​s. Your child could get seriously hurt when using them.
  • Alberta Health Services and the Canadian Pediatric Society agree that children should never use trampolines at home, and they recommend that parents not buy them. 
  • Safety nets do not make backyard trampolines safer. 

Playing and climbing equipment

  • Check the play and climbing equipment in your yard regularly to make sure it’s in good shape.
  • Use the playground safety YES test checklist to help you know if your child is safe and ready to play.
Lawnmowers and power tools

  • Keep your child out of the yard when you use the lawnmower, and turn it off if they enter the yard.
  • Do not let any passengers on a riding lawnmower.​
  • Make sure power tools are turned off and remove the batteries or unplug tools if you need to leave them for any amount of time.
Barbecue and grills

  • Store lighter fluid, barbecue lighters, and matches where your child can’t get them.
  • Clean, maintain, and check the barbecue regularly to lower the risk of fire.
  • Keep your child away from the barbecue. Never step away from the grill when children are around.
  • Always have a fire extinguisher nearby to put out a fire. 
  • Turn off the gas and make sure the flames are out when you’re finished. Charcoal can stay hot for hours. Close the lid of the barbecue so it can’t light up again. 

Current as of: October 5, 2022

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention, Alberta Health Services