Child Security Outside The Home
The times of letting children go out to play from dawn until dusk may be over, but that does not change the fact that they love to be outside and that they need to be safe when they are. From setting up a safe environment to ensuring that environment is used safely, there are a lot of things for parents to consider when their children play outside. Being knowledgeable about outdoor safety is paramount to keeping kids smiling and injury-free. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Never Leave a Child Unsupervised Outside
A few things have changed over the past couple of decades. It is no longer simply inadvisable to leave children outdoors unsupervised; in some places, it is illegal. Allowing children to play outside for the better part of a day with only the imperative that they be home before supper has gone by the wayside in the wake of increased reports of abductions and other dangers. If a child has been left unsupervised outside, it increases the likelihood that they could be injured without anyone to manage or assess the severity of the injury, leading to potentially severe complications. These days, parents can buy cameras that allow them to watch live feeds of their children playing, but it is usually best to supervise them directly. Today, leaving children outside for extended durations can lead to charges (both social and legal) of neglect, so it is best to never leave children outside alone.
Teach Proper Outside Behavior
Of course, none of the above information means that you should never take children outside. Playing is integral to a child's emotional, cognitive, and physical development, and, as such, it is imperative for every guardian to make time for supervised outdoor activity. In order to do so safely, there are some basic rules of behavior every child should know. These are relatively simple things, like not crossing the street unless holding hands with an adult and even then only after looking both ways for traffic. Children should also know not to chase after toys that may roll or blow into the street and to never talk to strangers. These may seem like simple rules to you, but that is only because an adult was wise enough to ingrain these rules into you early and often. Do the same for your child.
Ensure the Play Area is Safe
To the fullest extent possible, do what you can to make sure you've removed anything dangerous from the play area. This can include the removal of obvious things, like trash and bottles, as well as less obvious things, like sharp branches. Consider bringing a plastic bag or two and a pair of gloves with you to the park to clean up anything like glass or animal feces before your children play. Also, it can be advantageous to remove any lawn equipment or tools if they belong to you or you get permission. The same idea goes for grills or the contents of an outdoor bar if you are playing in a yard. Often, this equipment poses a significant hazard to kids.
It is also very important to note any environmental hazards in and around the play area. Particularly if the play area is not fenced in, make note of any busy roads, pools, lakes, or railroad tracks that might earn your child's attention. If possible, make every attempt to stay away from these hazards, as the appeal of the water, trains, and other things is often too much for a curious child to resist. If the play area is an area that belongs to you, such as your front yard or backyard, you can invest in some long-term safety equipment that can give you some piece of mind. First, ensure that any electrical equipment is fenced in. Air conditioners can be a hazard to unsupervised children, so it is best to take away any opportunity they might have to get too close. Also, if you have any lawn care equipment, ensure that it is in a locked shed. This goes for things as large as a riding lawn mower and as small as a pair of scissors.
When the play area does not belong to you, you must be extra diligent. Take the age of the children for which the playground was created into account before deciding if it is a good place for your child to play. Bringing your fifth grader to a playground meant for pre-schoolers is not only potentially boring for the fifth grader, but also potentially dangerous for the pre-schoolers. The same concept holds true if your child is a pre-schooler; bringing them to a park made for fifth graders can cause boredom (because much of the equipment is physically inaccessible to a pre-schooler) and injury.
Take a look around the playground before you allow your children to play on it. This can be a good idea to do a day or two before you decide to go, as bringing children to a playground and then telling them they can't play on it can cause some otherwise avoidable problems. So take a look at the equipment and make sure there is nothing broken or with sharp edges that could cause injury.
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