Backyard Toy Safety
Do you have a pool, a trampoline, a play set or a treehouse in your back yard? If so, your back yard is going to be the go-to for all the neighborhood kids. To keep everyone else safe, install a fence that's difficult to climb and take these other safety precautions.
You probably know pools can pose a serious threat if proper precautions aren't taken. First of all, make sure you have a pool fence and a locking gate so people who don't live in your house cannot access the pool when you aren't there. When you are there, keep an eye on what's going on at the pool. Adult supervision is important in case of accident or injury. Even if kids aren't rough-housing poolside, a swimsuit or even hair can get caught in a pool drain, and that can lead to disastrous results if nobody is around to cut the suit or hair loose.
Today's swing sets aren't the same as the ones in the 70s. In fact, it's not uncommon to find a play set in a back yard that would rival one you could find at a park. If you install one in your back yard, follow these guidelines to keep kids safe:
- Install the set at a safe height and size for your kids.
- Place it in an area where the surface is level to get better stability and install a soft surface around it for landing space.
- Space out swings carefully to prevent them from hitting each other or other objects in the area, like tree branches.
Another thing that may help children avoid getting hurt is to avoid wearing loose clothing that could be caught on the swings.
Kids love trampolines! In fact, they are one of the most popular—and dangerous—backyard toys. Childrens' injuries on a trampoline range from getting fingers caught in the springs to landing wrong, falling off, bumping into each other, etc. Some of these injuries can result in serious head or neck injuries like concussions. Although rare, paralysis or death can occur.
If you decide to buy a trampoline, discourage children from doing stunts and encourage them to take turns with the jumping. Always check the trampoline's parts for any repairs that may need to be made to keep it in good condition for everyone's safety. A safety fence made just for trampolines and a cover for the springs are great precautions, and to prevent it from tipping over, anchor it to the ground. Some people even bury it most of the way underground resulting in an "in-ground" trampoline. As is the case with most backyard toys, it's best to have some sort of adult supervision nearby.
Tree houses are not as common as they used to be, but they are the kids' equivalent to a "man cave" or a "she shed." Although they can be just as dangerous as a trampoline, there are some things that can be done to make them a little safer. First and foremost (and this admittedly is a no-brainer) build the tree house in a tree that is strong enough to support it. Also, check it regularly to ensure its structural viability to have children in it.
Part of the fun of a tree house is that it is off the ground. That said, it shouldn't be placed too high up. There should also be a safe way to get to and from the tree house. And just like keeping a soft surface beneath the house a surface could reduce injury in case of falls off a play set, the same holds true for a tree house. Follow proper guidelines for guardrails, and we'll say it again--adult supervision is always recommended.
Soft Landing Pads
In general, having a protective surface for your child's play area is a very good safety measure to take. According to the Center for Childhood Safety, 79% of all playground injuries are from falls to the ground. The severity of injuries from any kind of fall while playing with backyard toys can be greatly reduced with protective surfaces that are properly maintained. Soft woodchips, rubber mulch or even sand are popular, are much better than having a grass or dirt surface because those can harden over time.
Having an adult outside with the kids is not the same thing as having an adult outside who is paying attention. Adults who are supposed to be watching the kids should not be on their phones or reading. They should be attentive and keeping an eye on the children when they are playing.
"If you have a lot of toys where people can get injured, get as much no-fault medical as you can, and you probably want to get more liability coverage," cautioned Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. "You need to have enough liability protection to protect your assets, and it's relatively inexpensive," Salvatore said.
Contact your agent to find out what additional coverage you might need for your family's summer toys.