by CAROLINE'S DESIGN

7 easy ways to make your garden safe for kids

Leigh Leigh
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Parents know that their kids' safety is the most important thing, even if it does mean a bit of DIY in the garden every now and then. If you're slightly old-fashioned and much prefer that your children are outside, playing among the trees and the birds and the flowers, rather than being cramped up inside with their iPads and their computer games, then you need a garden that is safe for the kids. 

With summer here and days staying brighter for longer, your kids are probably lapping up the holidays and the opportunity to play cricket with their friends, swim in the pool until their fingers are wrinkled and climb trees. And while as parents we do our best to keep an eye on our kids and make sure that they are safe, we can't be glued to them 24/7. The kids need to do some exploring on their own too!

So we need make sure that the garden is as safe as possible for them while they are playing. Never fear, however, we are here to advise you how to child-proof your garden so that you can enjoy your holiday too!

Protect the terrace

Your beautiful terrace with it's stylish decor, gorgeous floors and fancy braai needs to be kept safe from the kids as they run amok!

The first thing is to make sure that the floor of the terrace isn't slippery, ensuring that while the kids are playing or running around, they don't fall and hurt themselves on the terrace—you know how kids are always moving at lightening speed!

Explain to your kids how important it is that they look after your terrace decor items as well the cushions and furniture—no climbing or standing on the seats! If they are going to play ball games, encourage them to play on the other end of the garden so that you don't get a ball through the window or that your gorgeous pot plants, candles and vases on the terrace don't get knocked over.

If you have a gas braai, ensure that the gas is turned off and secured so that the kids can't turn it on while they are playing.

Fencing

No one wants their kid to poke an eye out playing in the garden by running into a fence or trying to climb up it so that they can chat to the next door kids. 

Stay away from pointy edges, electric fences or barbed wire, which are all begging for an accident to happen. Kids are naturally curious and they can also end up egging each other on to do some very silly things when they are playing in a group—such as touching an electric fence! If you can, opt for a practical but safe fence that the kids won't be able to climb, such as the one above.

With crime and safety an issue in South Africa, you may have no choice but to have an electric fence or barbed wire, however. If you can't avoid this, the best thing to do is to build a solid, perimeter wall and then place electric fencing or barbed wire on top—far out of reach of little kids!

Fencing is also important so that the kids can't leave the property while they are playing—it needs to keep them in so they don't end up playing on the street among cars.

Lastly, talk to your kids about the dangers of electric fences and barbed wire as well as why it's so important for them to play safely in the garden.

Cover the pond

Between 2005 and 2009, it was estimated that in the United States alone there were an average of 3 533 deaths due to drowning, which equals about 10 deaths per day. According to the American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five people who drown are younger than 14-years-old.

This is every parent's worst nightmare, but is something that is preventable with a few safety tips.

The first thing is to have any ponds or swimming pools covered with a net or even a solid cover. If a kid accidentally falls into the pond or the swimming pool, you want to make sure that they are safe! You can get nets or covers from thousands of places around the country so don't delay, do it now!

Educating your children on what to do if they fall into the water is also a very good idea, along with swimming lessons from a young age. If the unimaginable happens, you want your kid to be able to at least float until help comes.

Lastly, make the rules around swimming strict. They must have an adult supervising them whenever they swim and they must have their arm bands, pool noodles and other floating devices with them to keep them safe.

Safe garden furniture

Garden furniture should be comfortable, decorative and safe for the kids.

If you're going to have steps in your garden, such as the one seen here by Caroline's Design , then make sure they are wide and easy for kids to walk up and down. Tripping in the garden isn't fun!

Also ensure that your chairs and tables are sturdy and aren't going to collapse on a kid if she or he climbs up onto it. Using lots of cushions to soften any furniture is a fantastic way to protect kids from sharp edges and hard surfaces.

Check out this awesome range of garden furniture.

Safeguard the swings, slides and playground

The playground is the centre of entertainment for kids in the garden, but it can also be a minefield where all sorts of injuries are waiting to happen!

If you're going to install a jungle gym set in your garden or if your kids are going to play on one at their friends' houses, it's important to teach them how to use swings, slides and other parts of the playground properly. Teach them how to get on and off a swing, how to slide safely and which ways are the best ways to climb up and down. 

The second tip is to opt for a jungle gym set that isn't too elaborate or too high—you don't want to worry about the kids falling off a really high platform! Ask the suppliers of the jungle gym about safety and which one is the best for kids, depending on their ages. 

You can also ask your neighbours to keep an eye on your kids if their house overlooks the garden and the playground, if you need to do some work inside. Read these: Simple Ways To Be A Better Neighbour.

Lighting at night

Lighting in the garden creates the most incredible ambiance, as seen in this design by La Bella Candela, where fairy lights litter the garden area, creating a space that is quite magical and whimsical.

For those with kids playing in the garden, lighting also serves a very important function as well, allowing parents to keep an eye on their kids as the sun sets, no matter where they are playing in the garden. Fill your garden with lights so there are no dark corners where the kids can hide out of site.

Motion lights are also a fantastic option for the garden, lighting up only when someone walks past it. This means that you'll also know where in the garden the kids are playing, depending on where the light is coming from. 

No matter which lights you choose for your home, make sure that they are child-friendly and that the kids aren't going to hurt themselves if they touch it by mistake.

Safe plants

Kids like to do very weird things such as taste flowers, sniff plants and climb trees so you want to make sure that they aren't going to poison themselves while they're doing this. 

Get an expert into your garden to check out every species of plant, trees and flowers to ensure that there is no poison ivy hiding in your garden, ready to hurt the kids. If there are any unsafe plants, have them removed immediately, right from the roots.

Also encourage your kids to be safe when it comes to putting things in their mouth—explain that some plants won't be good for them! 

And when it comes to climbing trees, ban your kids from any trees that are too high. You don't want any kids falling out of very high trees.

Your kids are your precious gems and it's scary to think of all of the things that can go wrong and how they can possibly hurt themselves. But you can't spend your life worrying! Follow the above safety tips and then relax and let your kids have some fun.

Do you have any other tips for making your garden safe for kids? Please share them with us!
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