Every parent wants to give their kids every opportunity to get off their phone and play outdoors. Having an active and outdoorsy lifestyle is a great way to raise happier and healthier kids. Unfortunately, there are also some hazards that are unique to the outdoor entertainment and play opportunities that you may have given your children. These don’t have to discourage you from providing these opportunities, however. Here is how to keep your kids safe from 3 potential outdoor play hazards.
As you might imagine from an outdoor activity that involves significant heights and high velocities, trampolines can result in significant injuries. Falls and crashes when bouncing can result in broken bones, fractures, concussions, and neck and spine injuries. Some parents believe that these risks are significant enough to forgo trampolines, and this is a valid response. There are, however, ways to make bouncing on trampolines safer for your children. When looking for a kids’ trampoline, make sure to find one that includes a safety net around the parameter and that is near ground level.
There are ground rules you can set with your kids that will make playing on a trampoline safer as well. Many trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is playing on the trampoline and they crash or land on top of each other. You should tell your kids to avoid flips or somersaults to reduce the risk of neck and spine injuries. Finally, make sure that there is always an adult nearby supervising so that any injuries can be quickly attended to.
Biking is a great form of exercise for younger kids and can give older kids greater mobility and freedom. It also comes with well-publicized risks for kids and adults of all ages. Getting into a bike crash can result in concussions, broken bones, and even death. The best way to prevent concussions is, of course, a bike helmet. A proper fit for your child’s bike helmet is essential, so go to a specialist bike shop to ensure the best fit.
With older kids, bike safety when biking longer distances is, of course, a concern. Tell your kids to ride on the sidewalk or in the same direction as the traffic. Inform them of common traffic rules, right of way, and hand signals that will help them indicate where they’re going to the drivers on the road. Make sure that they understand how important it is to be aware of cars, and consider getting them a bike light or reflector to make them more visible on the road. Allowing older kids to bike on their own is a great way to allow and encourage independence, but it must be tempered by a healthy amount of caution.
Swimming is a great form of exercise, a life skill that can save your child’s life, and a great way to cool off in the summer heat. Unfortunately, it can also be a dangerous form of summer fun. Approximately 700 children drown and many more suffer injuries due to pools, lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water every year. This isn’t a case, however, where you should be overprotective and prevent any contact with pools or water whatsoever. Your children will be infinitely better protected if they know both how to respect and have fun in the water, rather than fearing it.
The first step, of course, is to ensure that your children are well equipped for any bodies of water that they might encounter. Be proactive in teaching them how to swim and enrolling them in local swimming lessons. Make sure that they understand the unique dangers present in flowing water such as rivers or open bodies of water such as lakes or oceans. If you have a pool at your home, make sure you have a fence that isn’t easily scalable and insist on designated water watchers whenever there are children swimming in the pool. Finally, if your older children express an interest, look into local CPR, Red Cross, or first aid classes. The more competent individuals around, the better.
There are many outdoor play hazards, but they don’t have to paralyze you or your children. With a little foresight, you can take sensible precautions and arm your children for safe and fun outside of your home.