Our family enjoys playing together outdoors in the winter.


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Safety: Outdoor

Here is a basic safety checklist for the outdoors. In addition to the points below, be sure to look carefully around the outdoor area that you and your child use frequently for yourself, to see if there are any additional actions you can take to safety proof it. But begin by making sure that:

  • All exits to the outdoors are clear of snow and ice

  • The outdoor play area is fenced with a gate that can be locked, or the latch is out of reach of children

  • Potentially dangerous items and products (such as tools, axe, lawnmower, gasoline and insecticides) are stored in the garage out of reach of children

  • The space between the rungs of a ladder or holes in a structure are not between 7 and 25 cm (3 to 10"), the perfect size for a preschoolers head to fit

  • Outdoor equipment is arranged to maximize safe traffic patterns (for example, allow room for swings to go back and forth)

  • The play area is not cluttered with a lot of equipment - there is at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) between pieces of equipment

  • The surface around the swings, slides and climbers can cushion a child's fall (for example, use 25 to 50 cm [10 to 20"] of sand) - hard surfaces such as cement can cause serious injuries if a child falls

  • There is nothing on equipment that can act as a hook to snag clothing (especially at the top of slides)

  • Screws and bolts holding equipment together are not loose or missing

  • There are no sharp, rough, rusty or splintered edges or surfaces on areas where children sit and crawl

  • There are no moving parts that can pinch or crush body parts, especially fingers
  • Drawstrings and cords on hoods, jackets and mittens are taken off, tied up or tucked in and jackets are zipped up. Long hats and scarves and loose clothing are avoided - all of these can get caught on play equipment and strangle a child

  • There are no skipping ropes attached to playground equipment - this could lead to strangulation

  • There are no "S" hooks or other open hooks used to hang or secure equipment

  • Unsafe or disassembled equipment is removed from the play area

  • The play area, including the sand box, is free of hazardous objects (such as glass, nails, animal feces) - keeping the grass cut short makes hazards easier to see

  • There is a cover on the sandbox (this helps to eliminate contamination from animals)

  • There is close supervision if children play where there is snow build-up, which can allow children to climb to dangerous heights or to slide down into dangerous areas

  • Children are not helped to climb to unsafe heights

  • Children are supervised closely when playing in or near water, no matter how shallow. (Children can drown in as little as 4 cm [1 1/2"] of water.)

  • Wading pools are drained, turned upside-down or made inaccessible when not in use, or when constant supervision is not possible

  • When barbecuing, children are constantly supervised

  • All barbecue equipment (such as coal and starter fluid) is out of reach of children

  • Supervision is not hampered by trees or other structures

  • Children are protected from the sun with hats, light clothing and sunscreen (sunscreen is not recommended for babies under 6 months of age)

  • Helmets are CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved and fit properly, and are always worn when biking and rollerblading. (Elbow, knee and wrist pads are also worn when rollerblading.)

  • When sitting on a bike, your child can touch the ground with the toes of one foot - it is not safe to buy a bigger bike, with the idea that your child will grow into it

  • Children have been taught the "rules of the road"

  • The outdoor play area is free of poisonous plants

  • The grass and plants are not sprayed with poisonous substances such as pesticide

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