Teaching Children How to be Safe Around Water Features

They splash, gurgle, bubble, drip, or just look inviting. They may take the form of small wading pools and ponds, fountains and basins, or simple birdbaths. Water features can add another dimension to the garden. They can be fun, exciting, and interesting focal points. They can provide much needed water to wildlife, making them welcoming additions. Unfortunately, water features can also pose a serious threat to those we love most—our children.

Taking Precautionary Measures

A few inches of water is all it takes for a young child to drown. Children between the ages of one and two are most at risk. Water fascinates young children, and they will investigate any water they find in the garden. Therefore, if you plan to have water features of some kind in the garden, or even a swimming pool, it’s extremely important to teach children how to be safe around them. Water feature safety should be taught at an early age and continually instilled in children as they grow.

Children typically do not understand the concept of danger until they reach around four or five years of age. Therefore, if you have younger children, it may be wise to take out garden ponds and other water features until they are older. In order to teach them about safety, you should practice a few precautions, such as using mesh covering over ponds or fencing around them. Perhaps, you could even consider converting a current garden pond into a sandpit instead. In addition, never, for any reason, leave children unattended around water features.

Ponds, even small ones, can be an accident waiting to happen without the proper precautionary measures taken, especially if fish or frogs call them home. Young children find these creatures exciting, which can lure them to the water’s edge, increasing their chances of slipping in and drowning. Wading pools are often seen in areas near the garden to occupy children during hot, summer months. Although technically not considered a water feature, it’s just as important to practice the same precautionary measures. Make sure to supervise them while playing in these small pools. When not in use, remove all toys and floatation devices (this applies to swimming pools as well). You may also want to consider draining the water and putting the pool away. Always let children know they are not to go around these or any other water feature without parental supervision. Areas with ponds or pools should be fenced in and secured with a lock. Make sure to check the area surrounding these water features to ensure that there isn’t anything in which children can climb on.

Fountains, waterfalls, and basins are intriguing to children. They love moving water. Make sure that these water features are thoroughly thought out and properly planned for before adding them to the garden. Fit them into your design according to your child’s age and within scale to your surroundings. For instance, a permanently affixed, raised pedestal birdbath or fountain is well out of reach to young toddlers, yet will not tip over. This water feature also makes an ideal choice for smaller gardens.

Many people use buckets for all sorts of gardening projects. Always keep buckets stored in areas away from children. Don’t leave them in places where they may be prone to filling with rainwater either. In the event that you find one full of water, empty it in the garden. Your plants and children will thank you later.

Creative Ideas

Keep in mind that water safety doesn’t have to be all about rules; it can also be fun. If you have kids five years and up, allow them to help make signs for water features in the garden, like “Danger!” or “No kids without parents!”. Create safe, whimsical water features. Put the old, five-gallon buckets to work for you rather than against you. Place a submersible pump in the bottom, fill with rocks and water, and then turn it on. Not only will you have an interesting water fountain for the garden but also one that will be safe for the kids. Since it’s filled with rocks, the likelihood of drowning significantly decreases, especially with parents keeping a watchful eye, and it’s too heavy to overturn. Use your imagination to making learning fun. You could even come up with a song or poem that focuses on water safety, as rhymes are easier for children to remember.

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