What fun!! Never, however, leave your baby unattended while playing in the water! Every year, many children are rushed to the hospital due to accidents that occur in the home and garden. Checking your garden is safe for the littlest members of your family is important and here are some tips and advice for making yours as safe as possible.
It may surprise you but a very large proportion of plants are toxic in some way to humans and animals. Some garden plants present a hazard when ingested in large quantities, but the risk of severe poisoning, skin reaction or allergy is generally low. The best advice is to teach your children from a young age never to eat anything that they pick or find in the garden, be it mushrooms, flowers, berries or leaves. Wait until children are older before you show them what can and can’t be eaten. You can also check this handy website which contains information about toxic plants.
If your child does eat something and they become limp, sleepy, nauseous, mouth swelling, delirious or begin to act out of the ordinary after eating something, rush them to the hospital with a piece of whatever they have ingested for identification.
TOOLS & MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT
Keeping sharp tools and machinery away from kids is best done by securing them in a shed or store area that can be locked. Kids are notoriously curious and will try to climb on the lawnmower or move heavy pick axes and spades if left unsecured. Cuts and bad bruising is common when kids and gardening equipment mix! Similarly do not let them ‘help’ you by operating garden machinery. Electrical garden equipment should also never be left plugged in where children can access them. Electric shears, edge-trimmers and lawnmowers are responsible for many severed toes and fingers every year!
Garden storage should be safe and can be beautiful too!
HERBICIDES & INSECTICIDES
Plant and insect poisons are far more toxic than many of the plants in your garden and must be secured up high and ideally behind a locked door to keep interested little people safe. Similarly, practice good hygiene when using these chemicals yourself and always wash your hands thoroughly after using them. Do not let children play on the lawn if you have just sprayed it with weed killer or insecticide and do not pick any fruit or vegetables for 24 hours after spraying. Make sure too that your garage chemicals are securely kept out of sight. Turps and other clear chemicals as well as petrol can look like water or cool drink and can be fatal if ingested by a child. Don’t pour chemicals into containers which resemble something drinkable, eg coca-cola bottles, and always keep them well labelled.
PONDS & WATER FEATURES
Drownings in the home are one of the most common fatalities for children, especially in South Africa. Never leave a young child unsupervised near water, even a paddling pool. Often the water does not have to be deep for a toddler or baby to drown in. Do ensure that your pool, ponds and water features are safe and covered or fenced if you have small children, and use a pond cover or wire mesh just below the water surface for protection. Empty paddling ponds after us or cover them if you are going to re-use the water. Do not assume that kids will not one day try to reach the water and may slip in by mistake. It is just not worth the risk!
Do not leave buckets of water around if you have a crawling baby either…there have been too many fatalities caused by bucket drownings. Securing a stream like this one is difficult, so an adult must always be present for safety.
If you have dogs or cats, remove any droppings as soon as possible, wearing gloves or using a pooper-scooper and dispose of it. Apart from being unpleasant to step in when playing in the garden, the faeces can contain parasites which could cause serious infection and illness in a child. Toxoplasmosis, which is passed on through cat faeces can cause birth defects in unborn children, so take great care removing droppings from the garden if pregnant yourself.
Keep sandpits covered when not in use – dogs and cats see them as the ideal loo! And finally, always follow any gardening activity with a good scrub of the hands, including under the nails, to try to avoid any infection. Cute, but what comes out the other end is not so!
FIRES AND BRAAI SAFETY
Keep these well away from children and never leave them unsupervised. Ensure they are completely out and cold before leaving them. Also keep fires of any kind well away from wooden structures, eg sheds or fencing, and ensure they are not too close to trees or bushes which may catch light. Supervise children at all times around fires.
The most basic and important rule of safety in the home or garden is to never leave small children unattended! But now go out there with your kids to enjoy your garden and explain these rules to them so they too can begin to understand how to keep safe in the garden.