How to baby-proof your backyard
Your backyard should be a source of relaxation, entertainment and beauty for your family; but every outdoor space has its dangers. Explore our 8 steps to effectively baby-proof your backyard!
1. Know your plants; the good, the bad, and the toxic
Backyard safety for babies and children (and pets too!) starts with plants. Consider how the garden will be used, and if a toddler will be wandering among the plants. It’s best to avoid plants that carry dangerous toxins, but if these plants are unavoidable or naturally creep in, use risers, fences or paths to create barriers.
2. Pest control in your backyard
Knowledge is power; it’s important to know what each spider looks like, and the first aid actions recommended for each. An identification chart, with first aid actions and emergency numbers, is a great idea for anyone with young kids or pets. The funnel-web and red-back spiders are the only two deadly spiders in Australia, but both have successful antivenom available. To be safe, make sure you:
- Wear gloves when gardening
- Wear shoes as much as possible
- Shake out gloves and shoes before wearing
- Keep towels and clothes off the ground
- Perform perimeter sprays after sighting venomous spiders
Also keep an eye out for wasp nests around your home, and if a bee comes to visit your garden, simple ensure they keep a safe distance from the little ones. Bee stings can also be a common allergen, so it may be beneficial to have an emergency EpiPen in your home.
3. Venomous wildlife
Our wildlife is iconic, featuring some of the most unique animals in the world; some cuddly, others strange, and a fair few can cause some harm. Not every Australian snake is venomous, but if they are, they’re far more dangerous than spiders. It’s important to watch for them all, as non-venomous snakes can often resemble their venomous relatives for protection.
Keep snakes at bay by keeping grass short and removing thick weeds, clutter and yard waste. Also monitor or cover any water sources, especially standing water.
4. Pool safety
This one is by far the biggest danger for children; according to the National Drowning Report of 2017, there was a total of 291 fatal drownings in 2017, with 44 happening in swimming pools. Pool safety includes everything from compliant pool fences to adequate supervision; for a comprehensive guide, check out these 3 easy steps to pool safety and compliance. Especially if your yard has a pool area, it’s vital to have a stable wall or fencing structure
5. Baby-proof your shed
Sheds (and ‘Man Caves’) are filled with everything our gardens thrive on, from fertiliser and snail pellets to lawnmowers, hand rakes and hedging shears; but these items can be detrimental in tiny hands. Locks or baby-proof handles on doors are essential, ensuring that they leave no gaps for little bodies to squeeze through.
6. Rain, hail or shine
Australia is home to some seriously intense weather. A hot summer’s day can be extra risky for children and pets, due to their body temperatures being far more influenced by extreme weather. Shade, access to water and protecting feet from burning cement are all things to consider; for more ideas, browse this guide to surviving a sizzling summer’s day.
7. Boundary walls, perimeter fencing and safety gates
A sturdy boundary wall or fence should offer security and privacy; ideally, no one should be able to get in or out unless they’re meant to. The assurance of privacy can also give you an added peace of mind, especially if your yard has a pool area.
Dividing structures, such as safety or baby gates, also help keep kids away from dangerous areas where supervision is limited or where there are acute dangers, such as steep drop-offs or stairs.
8. All eyes on deck
Supervision is everything! Babies and young children love to investigate their surroundings, but have little to no understanding of the risks around them.
Close, active supervision doesn’t mean you don’t allow them to explore; it just includes making sure nothing goes in their mouths, that they don’t wander anywhere they shouldn’t and that their actions aren’t dangerous. Having Mum or Dad close by makes them feel safe, but allowing them to wander and do things on their own increases their confidence, so try not to shadow them too protectively.
With these small but important considerations, you can create a safe space for your young family, so that you can truly sit back and relax. For some extra fun, check out these 10 DIY projects to create a kid’s dream backyard!
Freelance contribution by Jane Sandwood
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