Safety Tips For Babysitters: Keeping Outdoor Play Areas Safe
Some of your babysitting time may be spent outdoors when the weather is nice. Outdoor play areas can be fun, but they can cause injury, too. You will need to keep a close eye on the little ones in your care.
Here are some tips to keep children safe at outdoor play areas.
Children are curious and can easily get into trouble on playground equipment. Some common hazards are:
- Standing in a swing when they should be sitting
- Climbing to the top of the swing set and sitting or swinging on it
- Jumping off or in front of swings, seesaws, or gliders
- Walking in front or in back of a moving swing
- Putting too much weight on a piece of equipment and making it fall over
Watch kids closely around hanging rings. Their heads may be small enough to go through the ring, turning it into a choking danger.
All children need to be watched when using play areas. Take some time to look over the playground before you let the kids play on it. This will give you time to learn more about it and the dangers the kids may get into.
Here are some care tips for your next trip:
- Check for broken equipment or hidden hazards, such as a sandbox with broken glass.
- Make sure rails, walls, and fences are secure.
- Limit children to equipment that is right for their age.
- Keep children a safe distance from one another.
- Do not let kids use slides that are in direct sunlight.
- Do not let kids hang or swing upside down, or go headfirst down a slide.
- Stay close and watch the kids at all times. Falls and accidents can happen quickly.
Be sure to remind the kids of the dangers of:
- Walking in front or in back of a swing
- Pushing other children off of the swing
- Swinging empty seats
- Twisting the swing chains
- Climbing up the front of the slide
There may be times when you are watching the kids in or around a swimming pool, wading pool, or spa. Children love water, so take steps to prevent accidents. Drowning can happen very quickly.
Seconds count. In seconds, a child can leave the house and walk to the edge of the pool. In seconds, a child can drown in only a few inches of water. A child can drown in the few seconds taken to answer a telephone in the house.
To help prevent drowning:
- Do not leave a child alone with any body of water, such as a pool, bath tub, or spa.
- Do not let a child swim alone. You should be within arm's length of infants and toddlers who are swimming. You should know how to swim, be able to rescue someone, and do CPR.
- Even a child who knows how to swim needs to be watched closely. They are still at risk for drowning.
- Do not let children play around the pool.
- Be sure that all gates or doors around the pool are locked.
- Remove the ladder to an inground pool so children cannot reach it.
- Empty wading pools and buckets when you are done using them. Keep the lid on the toilet down and the bathroom door closed to protect young children.
- If a child is missing, check the pool, wading pool, spa, or hot tub first.
- Know the telephone numbers to call for emergency medical service.
If you plan on babysitting, take courses in first aid and CPR before you start. You can take these classes through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Safe Kids—National Safe Kids Campaign
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Canada Safety Council
Babysitting: the basics. Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/babysit.html. Accessed June 11, 2021.
Babysitting: Pool safety. Kid's Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/water-safety-pools.html. Accessed June 11, 2021.
Safety on the playground. Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Safety-on-the-Playground.aspx. Accessed June 11, 2021.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 6/11/2021