AHS Weekly Wellness Tip: Backyard Safety

Manage the risks

During the summer months, children spend countless hours playing in their backyards. There are many potential hazards in the backyard that can result in injuries. Protect your children by managing the risks.

Survey the Yard

  • Make sure all fence gates are self- closing and self-latching.
  • Have a fence separate the play area from the driveway and garage.

Lawn Sprinklers/Water Slides

  • Use only on grass.
  • Make sure the area is free of obstacles and debris.
  • Teach children to slide sitting up and not to walk or run on water slides.


  • Check sandboxes regularly to make sure they are in good repair, with no protruding nails or splintered wood.
  • A sandbox cover is recommended, especially if pets roam freely in your neighbourhood.

Swimming/Wading Pools

  • Never leave children unattended in or near water.
  • Empty and turn over anything that could pose a drowning hazard (e.g. wading pools, pails). Children can drown in less than 5 cm (2 in) of water.
  • Fence all backyard swimming pools. The fence should be at least 1.2 m (4 ft) high and have a self-latching, self-closing gate.

Dog Bites

  • Do not leave children alone and unsupervised with dogs.
  • Teach children not to tease or strike any dog and to be cautious around unfamiliar dogs.
  • Teach children not to disturb dogs, especially when they are sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.
  • Teach children not to take toys, sticks or food from a dog.

Play Equipment

  • Actively supervise all young children.
  • Remove drawstrings and scarves from children’s clothing.
  • Properly secure equipment to the ground.
  • Set up backyard swings and other play equipment on a shock-absorbing surface (i.e. sand, wood chips or pea gravel).
  • Put railings around all decks that are more than one metre off the ground.
  • Limit height of the equipment to less than 1.8 m (6 ft).
  • Check equipment for gaps, worn, loose or broken parts.
  • Teach children the basic rules of safe play.
    • Always wear shoes.
    • Remove bike helmets when on equipment.
    • Slide down feet first and sitting up. One person on the slide at a time.
    • No pushing or horseplay on play equipment.
    • Wait your turn.
    • Hold on with both hands when swinging and climbing.


  • Store all lawnmower fuel, pool chemicals, and other hazardous substances in a locked area.
  • Have only non-toxic plants in your yard.

Lawnmowers/Power Equipment

  • Keep children out of the yard while mowing the lawn.
  • Do not allow passengers on a riding lawnmower.
  • Turn off the mower if children enter the mowing area.
  • Ensure power tools are turned off and left inoperable if they must be left unattended, even for a short time.

Barbecue Basics

  • When using a barbecue, establish a line around it that children cannot cross.
  • Properly lock up barbecue grills, propane tanks, lighter fluid, barbecue lighters, matches, and charcoal.

(Alberta Health Services)