Is your backyard safe?

The backyard is a great place for kids to play but can also be dangerous.

By Melissa Grant

Kids on the Sunshine Coast are blessed with gorgeous sunny weather for most of the year, which means they can spend plenty of time playing outdoors.

The backyard is a fantastic place for children to explore, learn and have fun, especially with siblings and friends.

But the outdoor space can be dangerous for little ones.

Statistics show the most common place for childhood injury is the home, with many mishaps occurring in the backyard or garden.

It’s not hard to see why this is the case given the multitude of hazards lurking out the back door.

There are the obvious dangers such as pools, pets, BBQs, sheds and play equipment.

But there are also risks posed by things less noticeable, such as poisonous plants and hanging tree branches.

Trampolines, monkey bars, swings and climbing equipment such as tree houses are the main outdoor play equipment commonly associated with injuries.

Other typical backyard injuries are caused by falling onto concrete, running into gates and falling from fences, fence posts and balconies.

Another scary statistic is that the majority of childhood drownings occur in swimming pools.

It’s recommended that children under five years of age be supervised all times when playing outdoors.

Parents should also be selective when it comes to play equipment regardless of a child’s age. It’s important to consider potential misuse of equipment such as trampolines and swings as well as gaps where limbs may become trapped.

So how do you ensure your backyard is safe?

Here are Kidsafe’s tips to avoid child injuries in the backyard

  • Have a safe play area that’s separate from hazards like cars, driveways or pools
  • Ensure you swimming pool or spa surrounded by a safety barrier that’s been checked using the Royal Life Saving Society Australia checklist
  • Ensure the area is free of drowning hazards. This includes ponds, pet water bowls, and – buckets
  • Make sure play equipment is stable and has no sharp edges, splinters or edges that can come loose
  • Cut off any sharp branches that hang at the child and adult eye level
  • Remove tripping hazards and rubbish
  • Check that plants in your garden aren’t poisonous
  • Place play equipment away from paths and solid garden edgings
  • Supervise children on and around play equipment at all times
  • When choosing backyard play equipment for your children, choose equipment that complies with the Australian Standard AS 468
  • Trampolines comply with the Australian Standard AS 4989 and have safety pads installed to cover the frame and springs
  • Put a soft surface under play equipment over 500mm high to cushion falls
  • Check BBQs are stable. If they are movable put them away when not in use
  • Garages and sheds should be kept locked. Put pesticides, paints, chemicals and other poisons stored in tightly covered, labelled, original containers out of reach of children
  • Store all flammable liquids safely (as per directions) and away from ignition sources
  • Cement in garden statues and bird baths to prevent a crushing hazard
  • Ensure electrical equipment, power points and light switches are protected from the weather
  • Separate pets from children, except when supervised
  • Cover garden ponds and water features with a grate, grill or mesh cover
  • Never leave lawn mowers or other equipment switched on and unsupervised when children are around
  • Ensure children wear hats, shoes and sunscreen when out in the yard