Backyard pools are becoming increasingly popular now that inflatable versions are much more affordable. Splashing around is an excellent way to beat the heat and have fun, but pools can also be deadly.
“Drowning is a leading cause of death for young children in Atlantic Canada,” says Sarah Blades, Health Promotion Specialist with Child Safety Link. “If pools are enclosed by a four-sided, self-locking, self-closing gate, many toddler drownings could be prevented.”
Child Safety Link recommends toddlers always be held by at least one hand while using floaters or water toys. Blades says it is also important to empty any temporary water from things such as kiddie pools or buckets when you’re not using them. “A child can drown very quietly and very quickly in a small amount of water.”
While your flower gardens may be pretty to look at, some of them may be dangerous. Some annuals and perennials are toxic to children. Parents should pay special attention to the plants growing on their property, know the names of them and eliminate anything poisonous.
“If poisonous plants are consumed, the result can range from a burn on the mouth to the child becoming very sick,” says Blades. “Parents are encouraged to research what is in the garden and to remove anything poisonous.”
If a child does come into contact with a toxic plant, parents in Nova Scotia and PEI should call the IWK Regional Poison Centre at 1-800-565-8161. In New Brunswick, call 911.
Backyard play sets are plenty of fun for kids of all ages, but you might be surprised to hear your lawn is not the best ground surface for swings and slides. In fact, soft sand, wood chips, pea gravel or rubber material are all safer options for your outdoor play space because they absorb impact much better than grassy ground.
Here’s a quick playground checklist for your backyard:
• Surfacing such as pea gravel, wood chips or soft sand should extend at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) in all directions from the play equipment.
• Spaces in equipment should be less than 9 cm (3.5 in) or greater than 23 cm (9 in). Look for and eliminate spaces that could trap a child’s head or body.
• Platforms should have ramps and guardrails to prevent falls.
• Watch for sharp points or edges that can catch children’s clothing.
• Swing seats should be made from soft material such as rubber or canvas.
• Play equipment should be firmly anchored to the ground.
• Watch for tripping hazards such as exposed concrete or tree roots around play equipment.
• Remove anything that could choke your child such as drawstrings on clothing or helmets.
Important safety tips for all stages of childhood can be found at www.childsafetylink.ca .
Inside Your IWK is a joint project by the IWK Health Centre and IWK Foundation. To view some of the interview with Sarah Blades, please go to www.Youtube.com/user/IWKHealthCentre.