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Outdoor Safety

Wild Animal Safety

While playing outside, kids can come into contact with all kinds of critters - snakes, birds, raccoons, possums, rabbits, foxes, s

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quirrels and more.

While these animals can be fun to watch, it’s very important that children stay away from them. In addition to the damage an animal bite can cause, they can also carry rabies and other infections that can cause illness and even death.

Kids should be taught to stay away from wild animals completely and to never feed them. It is much safer for children to learn about wild animals from nature shows, books, the Internet or the zoo.

Here are a few guidelines for kids to follow when they are outdoors:

  • Always hike with at least one buddy. It’s a good idea to have at least three other people with you so if you get hurt, two people can leave to find help and one person can stay with you.
  • Learn first-aid techniques in case you or someone you are with is bitten by a wild animal. Keep a first-aid kit with you at all times.
  • Sometimes animals are so used to being around people, such as in a park, that they will come close and beg for food. Teach kids that even though the animal may seem friendly, it may still bite.

Never corner any animal. This frightens the animal and may lead it to bite in self-defense.


Pedestrian Safety

Walking is a great way to get some exercise and help the environment at the same time. But there are rules that must be followed for everyone’s safety:

  • Children younger than 10 should always have an adult with them when crossing the street.
  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Cross the street only at intersections and marked crosswalks, and obey the signals.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Continue looking left and right until you get across the street.

To make sure drivers see you when you are preparing to cross the street:

  • Stay out of the drivers’ blind spots
  • Make eye contact with drivers
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing at night and carry a flashlight

It’s a good idea to practice crossing the street with your children to make sure they understand the rules. If there are crosswalks with signals, make sure your child knows how to use the button and obey the "walk" and "don’t walk" signals. Watch for unsafe behaviors by other pedestrians and use them to reinforce the rules with your kids.

Parking lots can be dangerous places, so it’s important to keep your child close to you and to watch for cars pulling in and out of parking spaces. Small children can be very hard to see for someone pulling out of a parking space, so if you see a car starting to move out of a parking space, keep your distance and wait until the car is at a safe distance from you and your child before you resume walking. Never allow a child to run in a parking lot or between parked vehicles.


Backyard Safety

The back yard is a place for fun and relaxation. Unfortunately, many childhood injuries can occur in just such a place. Although you can’t protect your child from all injuries, you can prevent some by taking a few simple measures. Some of the dangers that exist in a backyard setting, along with prevention strategies, include:

Drowning. Any standing water can be a drowning hazard – buckets, swimming pools and ponds are examples. Pools should have fences with gates that close by themselves and buckets should be turned upside down after use. An adult should always supervise children around water and stay no more than an arm’s length away from them.

Falls. Porches and walkways should be well-lit and stairs should have handrails on both sides. Ladders should be kept stored in a garage or workshop on their sides. Safety gates should be used to keep young children from falling off porches and decks.

Poisoning. Chemicals, fuels, car fluids, pesticides, and lawn and garden products are poisonous and should be stored in a safe place with a lock. They should be out of reach and sight of children. Keep the phone number for Poison Control (1-800-222-1222) by every phone in the house and workshop.

Burns. Use gasoline only as a fuel for motors and store it in a shed or garage with a lock. Never bring gasoline indoors – the fumes are very dangerous. Refuel a tool only after it has cooled down completely.

A few other tips for preventing backyard injuries:

  • Keep kids in the house while dangerous outdoor tools are being used.
  • Keep kids away from grills while cooking.
  • Store garden tools with the sharp ends pointing down and out of reach of children.

Playground Safety

Home, school and neighborhood playgrounds are a great place for kids to get exercise and socialize with other children. But they can be dangerous places, too. That’s why parents should inspect all playgrounds used by their children, including playgrounds in their own yards, to make sure they are as safe as possible. In addition to always supervising children while they are using a playground, here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Keep debris such as rocks, roots or garbage away from the play area.
  • Make sure any platforms or walkways have barriers such as guardrails to prevent falls.
  • Check for splinters, cracked plastic, rust and other signs of deterioration.
  • No more than two swing seats should be suspended from a swing structure.
  • There should be plenty of soft material under and around play equipment – hardwood chips, mulch, pea gravel and sand are good options – and it should be at least 9 inches deep.
  • Allow plenty of space between play equipment.
  • Be aware that a child can get his or her head stuck in a space as small as 3.5 inches.
  • Make sure your kids know not to stand behind or in front of another child who is swinging.

Farm Safety

Visiting a farm can be a great learning experience for kids, and helping out on the family farm is a big part of childhood for some children. But farms can present many dangers, too.

Machinery alone can be a source of many different kinds of injuries to children and adults. Tractors, in particular, can be extremely dangerous. Farm machinery can pinch or cut skin and limbs, and can sometimes even crush a person. They can throw debris or can catch a person’s hair or clothing and pull him or her into the gears.

But there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your children from farm machinery:

  • As always, adult supervision is key. Don’t allow a child to get near farm machinery.
  • Children should never play with or ride on farm equipment, even with supervision.
  • Keep all equipment and tools locked up and out of reach of children.
  • Know where kids and adults are located before starting machinery.
  • Keep safety features up-to-date on farm equipment.
  • Older children should be trained on how to turn off machinery.

Farm animals can also be dangerous. Teach your kids to avoid running or making loud noises around farm animals and to stay away from a mother animal protecting her babies. Helmets should always be worn when working with horses. Kids and adults alike should always wash their hands after touching any farm animals to avoid infections.

Noise is a fact of life on farms. Using or being near machinery can lead to hearing loss, so it is best for everyone to wear hearing protection. It’s also a good idea to avoid listening to music while working or visiting a farm because you might not hear someone’s cries for help if he or she is hurt.

Silos can be dangerous as well. Make sure no one goes inside a silo because people can easily become trapped and suffocate. If someone does get trapped in a silo, don’t go inside – call 911. Keep an eye out for places where kids can fall – ladders should be kept out of reach of children, and kids should be taught to stay out of haylofts.

Pesticides and other chemicals should be kept out of reach of children, in their original containers and with the lids on tightly. Electrical boxes should be locked. Manure pits on farms can be dangerous as well because they can produce gases that are harmful to humans.

Kids can help out on the farm, but be sure you assign tasks that are age-appropriate. If your child is 16 or older, he or she may be able to operate farm machinery – but he or she should have the proper training and wear appropriate clothing and eye/ear protection. Again, older children should know how to turn machinery off in case of injury.

Noise is a fact of life on farms. Using or being near machinery can lead to hearing loss, so it is best for everyone to wear hearing protection. It’s also a good idea to avoid listening to music while working or visiting a farm because you might not hear someone’s cries for help if he or she is hurt.

Silos can be dangerous as well. Make sure no one goes inside a silo because people can easily become trapped and suffocate. If someone does get trapped in a silo, don’t go inside – call 911. Keep an eye out for places where kids can fall – ladders should be kept out of reach of children, and kids should be taught to stay out of haylofts.

Pesticides and other chemicals should be kept out of reach of children, in their original containers and with the lids on tightly. Electrical boxes should be locked. Manure pits on farms can be dangerous as well because they can produce gases that are harmful to humans.

Kids can help out on the farm, but be sure you assign tasks that are age-appropriate. If your child is 16 or older, he or she may be able to operate farm machinery – but he or she should have the proper training and wear appropriate clothing and eye/ear protection. Again, older children should know how to turn machinery off in case of injury.


ATV Safety

All-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, should be used with caution. It is extremely important to wear a helmet and other protective gear when riding an ATV, and to avoid public roads while riding.

Kids under the age of 16 should not ride ATVs without adult supervision, and it’s a good idea to take an ATV safety course before riding. The adult supervising a child who is riding an ATV should also be properly trained in its use. Visit www.atvsafety.org to find a course near you.

Whether you allow your child to operate an ATV depends on the child’s size, age and maturity level. If you feel that your child is ready to operate an ATV, follow the manufacturer’s minimum age recommendation warning label on the ATV. The child must be able to reach the handholds and put his or her feet on the footrests as well.

Additional tips:

Make sure riders stay at a safe speed for the terrain and avoid carrying riders on a single-rider ATV. 


Pool & Hot Tub Safety

Swimming is a favorite activity of many children, but pools and hot tubs can be hazardous. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to protect your child from harm.

  • Children should be supervised by an adult when swimming or near any open body of water. The adult should stay within arm’s reach of the child at all times.
  • Every swimming pool should have a fence all the way around it with a gate that closes by itself. Pool cleaning supplies should be locked up after use, and always keep them in their original containers with lids.
  • It is easy to trip over pool toys. Keep them away from the area around the pool.
  • It’s always a good idea to know CPR and other first-aid techniques so you are prepared in case of a swimming injury. Keep first-aid supplies within easy reach of the pool and have a cordless or cell phone and emergency phone numbers with you.

Other pool safety tips include:

  • Avoid using glassware in the pool and hot tub area.
  • Keep life vests handy for children and adults who cannot swim or do not swim well. Make sure they use them.
  • Keep furniture away from the outside of the pool fence so kids don’t climb over it to reach the pool.
  • Be sure to remove pool and hot tub covers before anyone gets in, and keep water from collecting on the top of the cover.
  • Installing a pool alarm, such as a subsurface alarm, is a good precaution.

Bike Safety

Riding a bicycle is a favorite childhood activity. Here are a few guidelines for your kids to keep in mind while riding a bike:

  • ALWAYS wear your helmet – even on short trips.
  • Learn the parts of your bike. Make sure the parts are in good working condition each time you ride.
  • Keep all clothing away from the bike chain.
  • Look both ways before entering traffic.
  • Learn and obey all traffic signals.
  • Signal with your left hand before turning.
  • Ride with traffic, keeping to the right side of the road. Ride in single file when riding in groups.
  • Keep alert at all times to avoid accidents, and don’t wear headphones while riding.
  • Keep in control of your bike by keeping both hands on the handlebars.
  • Avoid riding at night.
  • Do not carry passengers, especially on handlebars.
  • Do not overload baskets. This can limit what you need to see on the road.

The above rules also apply to scooters, skates and other play vehicles with wheels.

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