Children and babies are curious, a good trait that should be encouraged
and guided in the right direction. However, that curiosity can sometimes put
infants and kids in danger, especially if we are not careful to maintain a safe
environment around them.
There are dangers present in a variety of situations, whether it be
playing in the backyard, park, hiking in the forest, natural disasters,
approaching strangers, or even being around domestic and wild animals.
Knowledge is power, and by arming ourselves with the proper information,
we have a better chance at avoiding these dangers, and how to react when we
find ourselves in them.
Yards can be a safe space for children to play and explore, but the space should be assessed for potential hazards. Following these guidelines can help you maintain a safe yard at your home:
Supervision can prevent a lot of injuries and accidents. Never leave a
child unattended near a busy street.
Herbicide and pesticide directions should be followed carefully. Don’t
allow a child to play on treated areas for at least 48 hours.
Know your toxic plants – plants are a leading cause of poisoning in
young children. Contact the Poison Control Help Line if you have any questions
about different plants (1-800-222-1222) and request a list of poisonous plants.
If you have poisonous plants, either remove them or create a barrier between
the plant and the child. Teach children to never pick up and eat anything
without consulting an adult first.
Never put children on an active riding lawn mower. The safest place for
children is inside or in a different space than where the lawn mower is
When cooking outdoors, always be aware of where children are in relation
to the cooking equipment. Teach them that the cooking surfaces are hot just as
the stove inside the house is hot.
Parks and playgrounds are a perfect way to get our children outside and
moving. They are set up to be mostly child friendly and fun. Familiarizing
ourselves with any dangers and ways to prevent or react to those dangers will
allow for a much safer playing experience.
Following these guidelines can help prevent many accidents and injuries
in parks and playgrounds:
Supervision is critical to preventing most park and playground injuries.
Always be aware of your surroundings and look for potential dangers,
such as open bodies of water like lakes or ponds that aren’t fenced off.
Keep an eye out for suspicious people who make you feel uncomfortable.
Watch out for unknown animals.
If it’s a hot day, check the temperature of the play equipment. If it is
hot to the touch, it is too hot to use safely.
Check the grounds for broken glass or other hazardous objects that could
be stepped or fallen on.
Follow the age suggestions for play equipment and be close by to assist
if your child needs help.
Make sure the surface under the playground equipment is appropriate.
Sand, wood chips, mulch, and shredded rubber are all safe surfaces. Grass,
concrete and asphalt are not.
Teach children playground safety, and review safety instructions and
guidelines before each playground session.
Playing outside on a sunny day is a great way to soak up some Vitamin D. It doesn’t take much exposure to gain more than is needed, and sun damage can happen quickly. Repeated unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause skin damage, skin cancer, eye damage, and immune system suppression. Prevention is key in preventing sun damage.
Following these guidelines can help prevent dangerous levels of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays:
Avoid exposure during peak times. In summer, the sun’s rays are
strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Wear sunscreen with an SPF between 30 and 50. Ideally, apply the first
coat 15 – 30 minutes before going outside, then reapply every 2 hours
(more frequently if sweating or swimming).
For children under 6 months, sunscreen isn’t safe. Shade is the best
option for protecting a little one’s skin from damage.
When being in the sun is necessary, wear a long-sleeved, light cotton
shirt and a wide-brimmed hat.
Sunglasses that protect against UV rays are ideal to protect the eyes
A rash guard with UV protection in it is also a good option for
protecting the skin without having to apply sunscreen.
Hydration is important when out in the sun for long periods of time.
Encourage children to drink water frequently.
Natural disasters can strike at any time. Preparing ourselves and our
children for these events can sometimes prevent serious injury. Weather
disasters include, but aren’t limited to, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes,
Teach children how to call for help and when to use emergency numbers.
Create a family disaster plan that discusses the dangerous weather that
can happen in your area.
Tell children where to go during a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake.
Teach children to recognize danger signals like smoke detectors or
In case of separation, have one or more out-of-state contacts to check
in with to aid in finding other family members.
If your child is old enough, help them memorize the name and phone
number of emergency contacts.
Create a first aid and disaster kit together with essentials like food,
water, and emergency items for several days.
Nature is all around us. Whether playing in the backyard or out on a
trail in the forest, being able to identify dangerous plants can reduce the
occurrence of irritations like poison ivy, as well as prevent poisoning from
ingesting toxic plants.
Following these guidelines will allow your child to become familiar with safe versus toxic plants, as well as prevent them from harm by contact or ingestion of toxic plants:
Know your toxic plants – plants are a leading cause of poisoning in
young children. Research and familiarize yourself with poisonous plants.
Teach children different plants so that they can identify what is safe
and what isn’t.
Instruct children to never pick up and eat anything without consulting
an adult first.
When hiking in the forest with children, stick to the trail as much as
possible. Typically, trails will have lower risk of toxic plants.
Explain to children that they should never eat any plant without first
getting approval from a knowledgeable caregiver. This is especially important
if you have a home garden and the child is used to picking and eating straight
from the ground.
If you have poisonous plants in or around your home, either remove them
or create a barrier between the plant and the child.
Contact the Poison Control Help Line if you have any questions about
different plants (1-800-222-1222) and request a list of poisonous plants.
PETS & WILD ANIMALS
Cuddly creatures will always attract children. Their impulse isn’t to
assess if the animal is safe; their impulse is to go to it and try and interact
with it. Children are usually unaware of the dangers of pets and wild animals,
so it is a parent’s job to teach them proper pet handling and dangers to watch
for to prevent serious injuries or death.
Following these guidelines will provide children with the tools to keep them safe around animals – wild or domesticated:
Always supervise when children and house pets are together – even the
most trusting pet has its limits and can cause an injury within a moment.
Teach children that it is never okay to touch animals while they are
eating or sleeping, as they can become startled and aggressive, even
Inform children about pet body language and signs for when an animal may
be feeling annoyed, scared, or angry.
Instruct children to never approach an unknown animal.