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Play It Safe With Outdoor Safety Tips

The great outdoors is a place of fun and freedom for young children. Try to make it a safe place, too.

Playground Equipment -- Inspect outdoor play equipment to see if repairs are needed before allowing children to use it. Concrete is a hard place to fall. Put sand, woodchips or mulch under your swingset or play area.

Pools -- Never leave a child alone near water. Place tables and chairs and toys away from the pool . A child playing near the water could fall in. If at all possible, fence in permanent pools and install self locking gates with latches out of reach for little hands. Even if your child has had swimming lessons or is wearing a life jacket, she needs you nearby watching. Learn CPR.

Plants -- Many plants can be poisonous. Obtain information from library books or your local Cooperative Extension Service and remove poisonous plants from your child's reach. If your child does eat a plant, remove any pieces from his mouth then call a poison control center for further directions.

Fertilizers and Pesticides -- Keep them locked in cabinets or out of the reach of young hands. Make sure that children are not around when using these products. Keep children away from areas where these products have been used for a period of several days. (Read the label for specific recommendations.)

Decks, Porches and Balconies -- Make sure that railings are close enough together so your child cannot slip through or get her head stuck. Keep a close eye on beginning walkers to prevent falls. Watch teething toddlers so that they do not chew on treated wood or surfaces that contain a paint or stain finish. Block off stairs and exits of outdoor spaces to prevent escapes and falls.

Lawn and Garden Equipment -- Remove all lawn mowers, rakes, pruners or other tools from the reach of young children. A locked shed is ideal. Make sure your child is not close by when you are using garden and lawn equipment, especially mowers.

Streets and Driveways -- Set and enforce limits to children's outdoor play areas. If possible, provide a fenced-in play area. Riding toys should only be used on sidewalks or other safe areas, never in the street.

Always Keep Your Eyes on Youngsters -- You need to watch your young child closely when having fun outside.


Holden, Janet and Presperin, Celeste, Safe Home Illinois University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Publications.

Pitzer, Ronald, Summer Pool Safety, Family Information Services, Minneapolis, MN, May 1990.

Prepared by Lisa K. McMurtry, Extension Educator, Family Life.