Backyard Safety

As we encourage children to exercise more frequently, more of us are spending time outdoors. More time outdoors increases the chance for accidents and injuries for children of all ages. As parents, we can’t prevent every accident that may happen when we are outdoors with children, but there are some steps we can take to reduce the risk.

Playground equipment is a source of many injuries.

When installing playground equipment, make certain it is on level ground, put together securely and firmly anchored to the ground. Make sure to choose age-appropriate options when selecting a set for your family. 

Broken bones are common injuries from trampolines.

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of trampolines in a home setting due to high risk of injury. If you do have a trampoline, check to see that the springs are in working order and the vertical safety netting is secure. Also, set some guidelines with your children such as having adult supervision at all times and only one person jumping at a time.

In summer months, swimming pools can lead to drowning and submersion injuries.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, each year more than 300 children under 5 years old drown, and 2,000 more children visit hospital emergency rooms for submersion injuries every year. Some precautions you can take include installing a fence or wall around the pool, door alarms for the house and a power safety cover over the pool.       

Sandboxes can lead to insect bites and possible allergic reactions.

The most important thing is to check labels when purchasing sand, and only use sand meant for play. Other sand could be harmful to your child. Cover the sandbox to deter critters, and ensure proper drainage to prevent insect breeding. Also, inspect the sand for insects and other contaminants before allowing your child to play.

Weather–related injuries are rare, but be cautious when you see lightning.

Thunderstorms are a common occurrence during weather transitions, and come with the risk of lightning strikes. The National Weather Service has a motto – When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors. The safest thing to do when a storm approaches is to go inside until it passes.

There is no substitute for supervision. While kids need time to have free play and choose their activities, make sure – especially for younger children – there is always an adult present.

Dr. Donna Eckardt is the medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Mercy Children’s Hospital.