Monday, October 4, 2010

Childproofing Outdoor Areas

Although we hear a good deal about childproofing our homes, less attention is given to the potential hazards of the outdoor areas where children play. Yards, garages, barns and stables, or work areas, whether on a farm, a suburb, or in the city, can present dangerous, even deadly situations to children.

Barns and garages are both places where children can easily find stored items. From a child’s point of view, these can be great play places. Children climbing on stacks of logs and utility trailers have been killed when these makeshift toys shifted or toppled and crushed them. Broken equipment, such as old cars or parts of cars can also lead to tragedy. Stored chemicals, such as paint, paint thinner and cleaners may also be inviting to children. How can you protect children from harm outdoors?

Extension safety experts recommend that you increase your family’s awareness of dangers and reduce the risks by starting with a safety audit. Walk through your back yard, garages, barns, and shops with your children to identify potential dangers. Explain to them why things are off limits, rather than just telling them “Don’t play on this.”

Once you have completed your safety audit, consider what actions need to be taken. For example, lock sheds and barns and remove all keys from machinery and equipment not in use. Fence off hazardous areas, including retention ponds. Cap and secure all wells. And of course, store hand tools, power tools and toxic chemicals out of reach. Teaching your children about safety and taking the time to secure unsafe places can be the difference between life and death.

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