Guest Blog – Children's Safety in the Garden

mackenzies garden 2
The garden Mackenzie has created with her children
Today’s guest blog is by Mackenzie Fox. She is a young mum of a six-year old boy and a two-year old girl; she loves gardening and all things green. Mackenzie has shared some very thoughtful ways to keep our little green thumbs safe in the garden.
My husband and I introduced our children to gardening early. We believed it was going to teach them about plants and other forms of life, the importance of sustainability, the environment, and keeping the carbon footprint low much more than any biology course would. They would learn how to grow their own vegetables and would keep them away from the temptation of spending their entire lives behind laptops or televisions.
However, while an early contact with the world of horticulture undoubtedly has its benefits, every garden comes with its potential risk factors. While I’m certainly not saying gardening is an activity full of danger, you’re still going to need to take the necessary precautions to create a safe environment for your children.
Watch Your Kids
The first step to ensuring your kids are safe in the garden is pretty obvious, but it needs to be mentioned nonetheless. Watch your kids as much as possible and keep them under adult supervision. This is particularly important if you have young children or toddlers – they’re prone to wandering off, exploring, and looking for adventures at every turn (yes Brian and Jenna, mummy is talking about you). Unfortunately, that can sometimes land them in a spot of trouble!
Tools
Well, this is no-brainer. I always make sure that all sharp and pointed tools are stashed away. When not in use, tools should be laid with tines down. When we use a power lawn mower, we make sure our children are at a safe distance.
If you really want your children to give tools a try then buy them something appropriate to their size, a small spade or rake for example.
Chemicals
Keep pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides or any other ‘cides’ for that matter out of reach. Don’t be fooled by the name, even organic pesticides are toxic. Storing chemicals in food containers is a bad idea. We implemented a safety practice of clearly labeling all chemicals as they pose a threat to our well-being.
We never mix or apply chemicals with our kids in the vicinity. Also, make sure when grass and plants are treated to allow some time for pesticide breakdown. However, pesticides should be used  as one of the last gardening solutions. A little bit of weed here and there can be hand-picked.
If you believe your child has ingested or otherwise been in contact with any chemicals, call  your local Poisons Information Centre immediately!!! They are available 24/7.
Tetanus Vaccine
Tetanus is dangerous infection that’s caused by bacteria found in both dirt and soil. They can enter the body through open wounds and cuts and once they’ve latched on, the bacteria can have fatal consequences.
While some parents may be reluctant to have their children immunised,  this vaccine can assist your body to create antibodies, which fight the toxins so giving this vaccine some further consideration might be worthwhile. Consult your GP if you have any questions. If you’re not a big fan of vaccines, just make sure your children don’t get any nasty and deep cuts.
Are Your Trees Safe?
The majority of parents will know the basics when it comes to keeping their kids safe, but some things aren’t as easy to spot. Trees, for example, can look completely healthy at first glance, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story. And not picking up on potentially hazardous trees can have some serious consequences – branches falling at the slightest of touches, for example, is not an uncommon occurrence.
So, it is up to you to identify possible problems and implement solutions such as  cable bracing or even  tree pruning, for example. I know it’s a pity to cut off branches since it may take them considerable time to grow again, but safety comes first.
Teach Your Kids the Ground Rules
Keeping my kids safe isn’t about wrapping them up in cotton wool and making sure all hazards are eliminated from our garden – practically speaking, this just won’t work. In addition to taking the necessary precautions, it’s also important that you give your kids the information they need on a regular basis.
You’d be surprised by just how much kids can learn and absorb at a very early age. Most are eager to learn and still respect what you say – unlike in their teenage years! Repetition is also an integral factor, so don’t forget to give them a quick safety run-down before each gardening session.
When It’s All Done
After my kids finish their gardening exploits, it’s important that they remember to keep hygiene at the forefront of their minds. Teach them to wash their hands thoroughly (using an antiseptic hand-wash!) and if they’ve scraped or cut themselves,  make sure the wounds are cleaned and dressed appropriately.
Ultimately, gardening for children is a fun, productive, and educational activity. But it’s only going to be a safe activity if you take the pro-active steps to make it so. Fortunately, most are quite straightforward and require just a few small precautions. As long as you ensure you do the ground work (pun intended!), your kids will be just fine.
Mackenzie's kids love to dig in the raised garden beds
Mackenzie’s kids love to dig in the raised garden beds

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