Teaching toddlers and preschoolers about safety is an important year-round topic, but there are some specific concerns related to the changing of seasons. After being cooped up all winter, children are usually ready to spread their wings and explore nature and the joys of warmer weather. With fresh flowers and greenery popping up all over the yard, spring cleaning and an abundance of outdoor activities, youngsters must learn to recognize danger, so accidents don’t put a damper on springtime fun.
Bugs and Berries
When spring rolls around, expect to see more bugs and fresh berries on plants and bushes. Since toddlers and preschoolers are fascinated by bugs, discuss the dangers of stinging insects and help your child recognize hazardous insects. It’s difficult to know whether your child is allergic to bee stings and other bug bites until he’s actually been stung, so it’s always a good idea to exterminate bee hives and wasps nests as soon as possible. Teach your child not to swat at bees or try to pick them up. A bumblebee on a pretty red flower is a tempting object for a young child. If you have poisonous berries in your yard, teach your toddler about the danger of eating them. Some berries are brightly colored and look edible, but your child needs to learn that it’s best not to eat anything that grows on outdoor plants unless you give it to him.
Streets, Cars and Swimming Pools
Warmer weather means plenty of outdoor playtime. Teach your toddler that streets, moving cars, parking lots and driveways are danger zones. If your youngster plays in an unfenced yard, instruct her to come to you if her ball or toy rolls into the street. Teach her to stay out of the driveway, even if she just wants to run outside and greet Daddy when he arrives home from work. As children get older, they can discern when it’s safe to play in the driveway or cross the street, but toddlers and preschoolers aren’t mature enough to make those decisions. Advise your child to stay away from swimming pools, even kiddie pools, unless you’re overseeing the water play. It’s best to keep swimming pools fenced and locked, so your child doesn’t accidentally fall in. Never leave your child in a kiddie pool unattended.
Spring Cleaning Chemicals
During your ritual spring cleaning, monitor all household cleaning products, so your preschooler doesn’t ingest or play with the toxic chemicals. According to the Pittsburgh Poison Center, more than 2 million poisonings are reported each year, and the majority of non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than 6 years old. Unsurprisingly, most of these poisonings involve common household cleaning supplies that you probably already have in your home. To a toddler, clear chemicals might look like water, orange chemicals like juice and red chemicals like fruit punch. Your child might see you scrubbing with chemicals and decide to do the same, not realizing that you’re wearing protective gloves. Always keep cleaning chemicals properly sealed with childproof lids, and store them on shelves that are safely out of reach.
Outdoor barbecues are a favorite springtime activity, but hot gas and charcoal grills are dangerous to small children. To avoid injury, place your grill in a location that’s safely removed from play areas and foot traffic. Teach your toddler or preschooler that a grill is heavy, hot and dangerous. The “Spring Fire Safety Tips” web page on West Chester University’s website encourages parents to instruct children to respect a 3-foot zone around a grill. Place a strip of brightly colored tape approximately 3 feet from the grill, so your child knows not to step over the line. You might even put a kid’s miniature pretend grill outside the zone, so your child can safely grill with you.