16 Effective Parental Tips for Kids Safety When Outdoors
There are no limits to outdoor fun, and the warm summer weather gives kids a chance to enjoy the fresh air, outdoor activities, and friendly competition with their siblings and friends. But the outdoors can have some risks for kids.
With summer approaching and more parents working from home, childcare and school resources may be limited. You need to find ways to keep your kids active and safe. As a parent, it is a challenge to keep your kids safe outdoors when you can’t protect them from every danger on your own. However, you can follow these safety tips for kids and let them enjoy themselves in the outdoors.
How Kids Can Benefit from Playing Outdoors
Kids who spend more time outdoors were less likely to develop attention and behavioral issues.
Kids need to spend more time outdoors, but that time is increasingly spent in front of screens. In the United States, the average child spends just four to eight minutes of playtime outside, compared to seven hours of screen time.
Getting outside is crucial for a child’s social and mental development. One study found that kids who spend more time outdoors were less likely to develop attention and behavioral issues.
There is no doubt that outdoor play is important for kids. The key is to balance keeping kids safe and letting them take advantage of the benefits of being outdoors. It is more important than ever to give kids a chance to enjoy being outside in a safe environment.
Set basic safety rules for outdoor play
Create safety guidelines with your kids before the summer arrives. Allowing them to participate makes them more likely to listen and follow the rules. Write them down on a piece of paper and place them someplace where they can be seen. Before inviting guests over, let them know the rules of your home’s outdoor play area.
Never let kids play rough with each other
If playing on slides, swings, and playset walls, kids need to be aware of their surroundings and watch out for each other. Remind them not to chase, push, and wrestle with each other when playing around the outdoor playset. “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” is an effective rule to establish before outdoor play.
Put away any equipment from the play area
After they have finished playing with them, make sure your kids store their bikes, scooters, sports gear, and other outdoor play equipment in the garage or another place in the house to prevent any trips and falls. Make it easier for your kids to pack up independently by having a designated storage space, such as a hanger or container, for each item.
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Keep your kids in your line of sight when they are outdoors
Tell your kids not to venture into the shed and any other area where you can’t watch them. Explain how seeing them can help in case they get injured, and you can reach them right away.
Make use of fencing
Older kids can visit their friends’ houses nearby and play sports outside. However, younger kids need secure places to play. Install a fence around your yard so they do not wander on their own and can play safely. If you have a pool, it is dangerous to let your kids alone near them, so make sure you fence the pool.
According to the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), the minimum height for a pool fence is 48” with the latch at least 54” from the ground, and the fence must be at least 40” away from any object that kids could climb.
Remove any potential hazards
Anything dangerous should be put away, such as gardening equipment, ladders, and chemicals. Watch out for natural hazards like poison ivy, low-hanging branches and holes, as well as animal droppings. If you discover any insect nests like fire ant mounds and wasps’ nests, remove them as soon as possible.
Place signs on your property
With these safety tips for kids in mind, consider signage on your property that warns drivers and others that kids are at play for extra security.
Put an outdoor surveillance system
Modern technology makes it possible for parents to watch their kids as they play outside. If you are working from home or needing to finish some indoor chores but still want to let your kids play outdoors, you can monitor with outdoor cameras that can transmit a live feed to your phone or computer.
Check in regularly with reminders
Set reminders on your phone and smart devices like Google Home Mini to check in on your kids. Your kids can also get their own devices with their own alarms to remind them to check in with you.
Use tracking devices
Although you may have provided them with safety tips for kids, it’s best to also consider buying a tracking device to track their movements when you can’t be with them. This way, you feel more secure on where they go, and these devices can alert you if your kids are in danger.
Make sure your kids are prepared for the outdoors
Dress your kids in weather-appropriate clothing and proper footwear. Playing outdoors requires safety equipment like helmets, wrist guards, and knee and elbow pads. Ensure they are in working order and your kids use them properly. Have them apply SPF30 sunscreen and insect repellent if they will be in a bug-infested area.
Keep your kids hydrated with enough fluids
Give your kids refillable water bottles when they play outside, especially when it’s hot. Remind them to drink water every 20 to 30 minutes, so they won’t get dehydrated. Let your kids be aware of mild to moderate dehydration symptoms that include a dry mouth, nausea, headache, and no tears while crying.
Speak clearly to your kids about safety
Since their developing brains do not process risks and threats the way adult brains do, talking about safety with your kids seems challenging. It is inadvisable for you to tell them simple warnings about staying safe. You also don’t want to demoralize them to the point of being scared to go outside.
Discuss other safety measures, such as wearing a helmet and stopping their bike correctly, so the conversation flows naturally. When you clearly explain your safety concerns to your child in short but understandable phrases, they will be more comfortable in asking questions and understanding your responses.
Create an injury prevention plan with your kids
Even with the right equipment and safety measures, sometimes accidents happen. Talk with your kids about what to do if they get injured and how to get medical attention. Maintain a well-stocked first aid kit alongside a list of essential contacts, including your healthcare provider.
Teach your kids how to be safe around the roads
If your kids play on the roads outside of your home, teach them about road safety. They need to be taught to look both ways before crossing the road. If they are younger, tell them not to cross the road unless they are with an adult. Keeping kids safe on the road can reduce the chance of a car accident.
Talk to your kids about stranger danger
Every parent fears for their kids’ safety if a stranger approaches them and they become victims of a heinous crime. Teach your kids to never talk to strangers they don’t know and get help if they are in an uncomfortable situation.
Keep in mind your kids may not always remember the importance of stranger danger. You can keep them safe is to use an outdoor home surveillance system or playing outside with a buddy.
Get Your Kids Involved in Their Outdoor Safety
Playing outside is crucial for your kids’ development and wellbeing, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks outside. You can build your kids’ confidence and independence when you keep the line of communication open and give them the tools and tips to be responsible for their own safety as well.
Being outdoors can be fun for everyone, especially when you take precautions to ensure their safety and make sure your kids make lasting memories.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eliza Moyer is a highly trained, task oriented disaster relief specialist. Her decades of personal experience and training (including a Master’s degree in Emergency Management) have been bent toward prevention and preparedness for her clients, reducing the casualties and cleanup time needed after disasters.
ELIZA MOYER // Emergency Expert
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