Make your oasis safe.
Before looking at specific issues within the Garden it is important to ensure the garden itself is safe. Check any fences and walls around your garden periodically to ensure they are in good condition; this will help to prevent children wandering off into neighbouring gardens or other premises where there may be unknown hazards.
Walls have been known to collapse onto children, if they appear unstable get them repaired. Fences and walls should be of a design that is not easy for young children to climb, and gates should be fitted with a closing mechanism that cannot be readily opened by children.
If hedges form part of your boundary check these periodically to ensure they have no gaps. Horticulture health and safety is one of the most neglected areas of gardening and one that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Check paths are free of excessive trip hazards and slippery algae etc. Where you might have the under 5’s visiting your garden avoid using small gravel and shingle surfaces that could be swallowed. As with fencing, paths and steps should be checked periodically and loose paving, steps etc made safe. If you have decking, maintained it to prevent it becoming slippery.
Avoid using chicken wire on wooden surfaces as this can deteriorate and become a trip hazard itself. Non-slip coatings may help. Avoid leaving hose pipes unreeled when not in use where someone could trip over them.
If you have permanent electrically powered features in your garden, or when using electrically powered tools in the garden ensure they are protected by an RCD (Residual Current Device).
An RCD will cause the supply to trip out and avoid electric shock if a power cable is damaged or a defective item of equipment is plugged into the supply. Ideally, an RCD built into your Consumer Unit is best as this will protect all your electrical sockets and circuits, but if you do not have one fitted use a portable RCD that can be plugged into a socket, which your power tool can be plugged into to ensure it is electrically safe.
Test RCD’s regularly. Do not use electrically powered tools in wet conditions. Battery powered tools are the safest, particularly if there is a risk of rain. Do not leave power tools unattended where children can attempt to use them.
Soil contains an array of different micro-organisms, some beneficial, some potentially harmful, such as Tetanus. For more information click here. Educate your children about this, the need to wash their hands, especially before eating, and not to touch their mouths with dirty hands.
Any child with a cut should have a plaster applied before they handle soil. It is good practice when gardening with children to ensure they wear gardening gloves to protect them. Teach them about safety at a young age; it will serve them well as they get older.