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NAN: Backyard Safety

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Children cared for in their own homes are able to enjoy outdoor play in their own backyards. Nannies must do their part to create a safe environment for the children to play and explore.

According to the Amputee Coalition, more than 600 children undergo lawnmower- related amputations each year. Given the risk lawn-mowers pose, children should not be allowed to to play on or around lawnmowers. Children should also not be allowed to ride on riding mowers.  According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, 800 children are run over by riding mowers each year and 75 people are killed — one in five of whom are children. 

There are other important safety precautions that can be taken in the backyard. Lawn maintenance equipment and supplies should be stored in a locked shed or garage that is not accessible to children.

Play structures should be anchored to the ground and be positioned at least 6 feet from walls and fences. At least 10 inches of soft, absorbent mulch or material should be under play structures to cushion falls. Play equipment should be checked regularly for damage.

Pools should be surrounded with self-latching and closing gates that are at least five feet high. Children over age four should have swimming lessons to help prevent drowning, but they should still be supervised closely when they are in the water. Nannies should remember that no amount of swim instruction can drown proof a child. 

Nannies who are responsible for swimming with children should enroll in a lifeguard certification or water safety certification program. Children should never swim unsupervised.  The International Nanny Association recommends  that children are only to be taken swimming by a nanny if she is a lifeguard, if she has successfully completed a credible water safety and rescue course, or if there is a lifeguard present. The International Nanny Association further recommends that any child care provider who works in a home where there is a large body of water present be properly trained in water safety and rescue.  

BBQ grills should not be accessible to children and when in use, children should be kept away from them.

Since many families employ landscaping companies to maintain their lawns, nannies should be familiar with the landscaping schedule and keep children out of the backyard when crews are working. Nannies should inspect the backyard after maintenance to ensure that no equipment has been left behind before allowing the children to begin play. 

Like with any other safety concerns, nannies should notify the family of any hazards in the backyard.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Backyard Safety