Though summertime means spending more time outside, barbequing and catching some sunrays, we must all remember to stay safe. Here are a few helpful tips to help teach your children about backyard safety:

Hot off the Grill

  • Teach your children that the grill is HOT and establish a safety zone where only adults can go. Have them play in an area separate from your grilling space.
  • If you’re using charcoal, explain to your children that coals are HOT and dangerous. Coals should be disposed of properly in an area that children can’t access. Never use lighter fluid on open flames and make sure your grill has been cooled enough before moving it.
  • If your children want to be part of the food preparation, give them other activities to do that steer them away from the grill, like mixing a side dish or walking used plates to the garbage.

Outdoor Play

  • Protect your children from having an injury or infection from a sharp object. Check your yard for broken glass, metal pieces, or unsafe tools.
  • Fire pits, like grills, can be dangerous too. Make sure to teach a safety zone and keep a constant watch over your children if you do have a backyard fire.
  • Always remember to supervise your children, no matter what they are playing with in the backyard.

Pets and Strangers

  • Your child may want to be friendly with everyone but you also must teach them that not all people and pets are safe. Model how to ask a pet owner if his pet is friendly and doesn’t bite. This can become a nice way to teach your children to use a gentle touch to pet a dog or cat.
  • Like approaching dogs, teach your children not to be too trusting of strangers. Only allow them to talk to people that you say are safe and trustworthy.

Fun in the Sun

  • The sunrays are incredibly powerful, even year round and when cloudy. Wearing sunscreen and using hats for both you and your children are extremely important. This can avoid painful sunburns, straining eyes and help prevent skin cancer. Whether you’re playing sports, shopping, barbequing, or at the bus stop, it’s important to apply sunscreen first.
  • Apply a UVA/UVB broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of 15 or higher. If you’re outside for more than two hours use a UVA/UVB water resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Use a generous amount to any exposed skin, including often-missed spots: ears, around the eyes, neck, scalp, hands, and feet.
  • Reapply sunscreen at least EVERY 2 HOURS, and more if it has come off from swimming, towel drying or sweating.

Take advantage of the beautiful weather in the summertime. Be safe, encourage safe play and, most importantly, spend time together.

What are your tips for keeping your children safe in the backyard?

Tammy Hilgeman is a Special Education Teachers at Penfield Children’s Center where she evaluates and does home visits. She graduated from UW-Green Bay with a BS in Early Childhood. Tammy has taught Infants through Kindergarten and Special Education. Tammy began her interest working with children and adults with special needs at Wisconsin Lions Camp, as a Unit Director and Easter Seals as an AmeriCorps Member/Counselor. She has volunteered in a preschool and orphanage in Peru. Tammy served as Vice President and Treasurer of Student Wisconsin Education Association. She wrote a grant and directed a Multicultural Olympics.

Duyff, Roberta, MS, RDN, FAND. “Grill it for Safety.” Kids Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. Web.

“Grill Safety: Don’t Let Your Summer go up in Smoke.” Consumer Reports. Web.

“Year-Round Sun Protection.” Skin Cancer Foundation. Web.


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