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16 Pond Safety Tips - How to Keep Your Kids Safe

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16 Pond Safety Tips - How to Keep Your Kids Safe

Ponds can be a rich and useful resource for teaching children about all sorts of things, and being able to watch animals and plants change over the course of a year can be a truly memorable and fascinating experience for kids. However, ponds can also pose a danger for young children if proper safety measures are not in place.

Even if your pond is on the shallow side, care still needs to be taken. As long as you take precautions and act sensibly, you and your family can safely enjoy a pond and the wonders it offers.

Design

The first thing to consider is the design of the pond. If you’re digging yours from scratch, you’ll be able to make as many adjustments as are necessary. However, we’ll also run through ways to alter existing ponds and make them safer for your family.

1.      Put up a surrounding fence

This is a must if you have particularly young children. You can put up a wooden fence, steel mesh, or else use plants to restrict access. You could also use rocks to create a barrier if you prefer. Either way, the most important aspect is that the fence is solid, and impenetrable. Children can be very clever when it comes to problem solving!

2.      Install a wire mesh top

It’s a good idea to install some wire mesh over the top of the pond, too, which will prevent children from falling into the water. If you prefer, you can also purchase safety grids that sit just below the surface of the water, so they do not spoil the look of the pond, but still add an extra level of safety.

3.      Create sloping edges

Should your child manage to break their way through the barrier to the pond, a gently sloping edge may help to stop them from falling in too deep. Another good idea is to place loose rock or grill steps in the pond itself, so that if anyone falls into it they will be able to find their footing more easily, as algae can make pond liners very slippery.

4.      Ensure decorations are secure

As with the fence or barrier, ensure decorative items that are placed around the pond are secure and stable. If children try to climb on top of a statue or bird bath, it could be easy for it to topple over into the pond with the child on top if it is not secured properly.

5.      Install a pool alarm

This piece of kit can be useful for both pools and ponds. It works by sounding an alarm if something falls into the water, which will alert you if a child or pet falls in. Of course if you have fish in the pond, an alarm floating on top of the water may not be suitable. However, there are also alarms available that sit above the water level and will sound off if anyone gets too close to the pond, before they have the chance to fall in.

6.      Position the pond so it can be seen from the house

You should supervise your children at all times when they are playing around the pond, but if your child manages to sneak out without your permission then they could get into trouble. Place your pond somewhere in your garden that allows it to be seen from the house, which will both serve as a deterrent to them going out against your wishes and also allow you to keep an eye on them.

7.      Cut back overhanging branches

If there is a tree that has branches that will hang over your pond, cut these right back. Not only will this prevent build-up of debris in your pond, it will also stop children from climbing above it where they could easily fall in.

Rules

It’s essential to lay down ground rules for everyone’s safety, so the next step of course is to set some rules and communicate them effectively. Here are some suggested pond rules:

8.       Never let your child out to the pond without your supervision

The first rule is for parents and guardians, and is absolutely essential. Though you may only leave children alone for a few minutes, sometimes that’s all it takes for them to get into difficulty. There should always be a responsible adult on hand to keep a watchful eye on youngsters.

9.       Children must not play near the pond without permission

Children must understand that they cannot play near the pond without your permission and supervision. Explain that while the pond is exciting, it can also be dangerous. You should be able to make the dangers clear without terrifying them with horror stories, but be very firm on this. Consider establishing pond play times when you will all play around the pond together as a family, for instance after school each day, to encourage them to keep to this rule.

10.   Everyone must act sensibly near the pond

That means no running, jumping, pushing each other and so on.

11.   Keep out of the water

It’s an obvious one, but worth driving home – keep out of the water! Children in particular need to understand that a pond is not a paddling pool, because to a child they may seem pretty similar!

12.   Wash hands after contact with pond water

If you decide to use nets to do a spot of ‘pond dipping’, hands will often come into contact with pond water. Be clear that children must keep their hands out of their mouth while taking part in this activity. Hands should also be washed immediately afterwards. Wear gloves where possible, too, and ensure any cuts are covered by waterproof plasters before you start.

13.   Look at, but don’t touch pond creatures

Again, if you decide to try pond dipping, it’s a good idea to have a ‘look, don’t touch’ rule with regards to the creatures and plants that you might find. This is good for teaching children to respect the environment, but also for preventing them from being bitten by something that doesn’t want to be prodded!

14.   Wear sensible footwear

Both children and grown-ups should wear appropriate shoes or boots that offer a firm grip when venturing near the slippery area around the pond – you need to be able to keep a firm footing in case you need to help your child if they get into difficulty.

Emergency training

15.   Complete first aid training

It’s always prudent to be prepared. First aid knowledge is invaluable and if you’ve recently added a pond to your garden, now might be a good opportunity to take a first aid course. If you are already trained in first aid, it’s also a good idea to take regular refresher courses so that you feel confident you know what to do in an emergency. The St John’s Ambulance website is a good place to start when looking for a first aid course.

16.   Have rescue equipment on hand

If your pond is very large – and especially if it is too deep for you to be able to wade into – make sure that you have some rescue equipment on hand such as a pole or throw line.

Pond dipping equipment

Now that the safety checklist is out of the way, it’s time to start enjoying your pond with your family. While watching from afar can be deeply enjoyable in itself, pond dipping, which we mentioned earlier, is even more fun. Here’s what you’ll need:

Pond Dipping Safety

  • Nets – making sure you have one for each child can help to prevent squabbles, and ensure that everyone behaves calmly around the pond.
  • Magnifying glasses – so that you can see the details of smaller creatures, and also feel like a real explorer or scientist!
  • Pots – cleaned out butter or margarine tubs will work wonderfully.
  • Plastic spoons – you can use these to move the creatures from the net to a suitable pot for inspection.
  • Identification guide – while the internet is a fantastic source of inspiration, having a book on hand can make identification much easier (and you won’t need to worry about your iPad getting wet!).

One thought on “16 Pond Safety Tips - How to Keep Your Kids Safe”

  • […] Important note: Ponds can pose a danger for young children if proper safety measures are not in place. Even if your pond is on the shallow side, care still needs to be taken. However, as long as you take precautions and act sensibly, you and your family can safely enjoy all the aesthetic and educational benefits of owning a pond. For more information, please see our pond safety guide. […]

    8 Reasons a Pond is a Great Addition to Your Property | Swallow Aquatics Blog, June 3, 2015 at 1:20 pm

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