When I was young we didn’t have a garden. We lived in a terraced house in Leicester and we would play out all day during the summer holidays, popping in and out of each other’s homes, having lunch at whichever mother was at home to feed us and sometimes not arriving home until dusk. Our parents weren’t anxious because it was the norm and if anything was wrong they would have heard about it soon enough.
Things have changed now, parents are more wary, more protective, and more safety conscious. But there is a happy medium that allows our children the freedom to explore and grow and yet remain safe and sound.
Accident prevention is not about restricting children or wrapping them up in cotton wool, instead it is about creating safer environments, both in the home and elsewhere, to enable children to thrive and lead a healthy active life.
This is especially true with hopefully the long summer holidays ahead of us.!! We all want our children to be able to spend as much time outside in the park or garden as possible and it is up to us to ensure that the environment in which they are playing is safe.
Let’s take water for an example. Children are fascinated by water. Mine spent hours playing with the tap in the garden, endlessly filling and emptying plastic containers. But it is imperative that young children are supervised at all times around water and if you have a pond or water feature in your garden it may be sensible to remove it until the children are older.
It’s scary to realize that children can drown in even the shallowest of water. From a young child’s perspective, a 50 cm deep pond is equivalent to an adult falling into 180 cm of water as the toddler is unable to climb out of the water and in some cases if they fall face down into a bucket or pond they cannot turn themselves over. It is not usually until the age of four or five that children begin to understand the concept of danger, and begin to heed warnings given to them.
Interestingly drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death in children.
So check the garden regularly. Containers holding rainwater should be emptied or sealed to stop children getting into them. Turn paddling pools upside down after use. Fill in ponds, especially if you have children under 6 – they can be used as sand pits. If you do have a pond or swimming pool in the garden visit http://www.capt.org.uk or for details of how to make them safe: http://www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/pond-garden-water/
Store gardening equipment and liquids out of children’s reach and check that the types of plants you are growing are not poisonous to children. Poisoning by plants is very uncommon in the UK. Some garden plants present a hazard, but the risk of severe poisoning, skin reaction or allergy is generally low. Nevertheless, it would help to teach children:
- if it is not a food plant do not eat it.
- do not play with or eat growing plants
- wear gloves when gardening to keep skin covered
- check plants labels for toxicity symbols and warnings
For more information on potentially harmful garden plants see: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=524
First Aid Advice
If you suspect your child has eaten something poisonous in the garden:
- seek medical advice immediately from a hospital Accident & Emergency department.
- take a sample of the plant with you.
- do not panic and DO NOT try to make the child sick.
The above is not a substitute for professional first aid training. For details of paediatric first aid courses in your area please call Safe and Sound on 0208 445 8998 or go to www.safeandsound.uk.net