When the weather is nice or the children are rambunctious, you may spend some of your daytime babysitting outdoors. Outdoor play equipment—swings, seesaws, and slides—can be fun, but can be dangerous too. You'll need to keep a watchful eye on the little ones in your care.
Here are some tips on keeping outdoor play areas safe for children.
Children often do the unexpected on playground equipment. They are naturally curious and adventurous. Common hazardous behaviors include:
Hanging rings are particularly dangerous to small children. Their heads may be small enough to go through the ring, turning it into a noose.
All children should be supervised when playing on playground equipment. Take some time to look over the playground in advance, before you bring the children, so you can get familiar with the equipment, location, and potential situations you may encounter.
Here are some pointers for your next trip to the playground:
You may encounter some resistance if their parents let them do things you won't. Explain that it's a temporary restriction while you're watching them.
You can also enlist the help of children. Talk to older children about certain safety rules and why they are important. Ask them to assist you in watching the younger ones. It will help them to understand these rules better. Let children know that any bad behavior, such as stunts or misuse of equipment, is unacceptable.
Daytime babysitting can also include time in or around a swimming pool, wading pool, or spa. Children are naturally attracted to water. Therefore, you must take precautions at all times to prevent accidents.
Nationwide, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death of children and adolescents. Many children are treated each year in hospital emergency rooms as a result of near-drowning. Drowning is a silent killer. When a child drowns, a babysitter won't hear a cry or even a splash. It 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 the following:
If you plan on babysitting, take courses in first aid, CPR, and/or lifeguarding before you take your first job. Regularly scheduled courses are offered by 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: Playground safety. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/babysitting_center/tips_advice/babysit_playground.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed January 15, 2016.
Babysitting: Pool safety. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at: http://teenshealth.org/teen/babysitting_center/tips_advice/babysit_pools.html. Updated: April 2013. Accessed January 15, 2016.
Safety on the playground. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Safety-on-the-Playground.aspx. Updated November 21, 2015. Accessed January 15, 2016.
5/28/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Weiss J, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. Prevention of drowning. Pediatrics. 2010;126(1):e253-e262.
Last reviewed January 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 1/15/2016