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Keeping your child safe when playing outdoors

Playing outside is good for children. It helps with their development and physical activity. It's also a fun way for them to exercise.

Encourage them to play outdoors whenever possible.

Keeping children safe outside requires supervision and care. Read some tips on how to do this, as well as dangers to look out for.

Beware of cords and strings on clothes

Check your child's clothes for cords or strings that could get caught. These could cause choking if it gets caught in something.

Playing in the garden

When your child is playing in a garden you should make sure that:

  • they cannot access a road or farm
  • gates are locked and there are no fences or walls that children can climb over
  • they are being supervised if you're cutting the grass or hedges
  • they are kept well away from lawn mowers, strimmers and hedge cutters
  • they are not playing near a barbecue
  • anything that can collect water is empty, covered or not accessible to children - this includes buckets, paddling pools and other water containers

Water safety and children

Farm safety and children

Clothes safety for babies and children

Lawn mowers

Keep children away from the lawn mower, even when not in use.

Avoid mowing the lawn near where children are playing. Powered lawn mowers can fling sticks, stones and other objects with force. Cut the lawn when children are not around - it is safer.

Lawn mowers, hedge trimmers and other tools should be stored out of reach of children. Petrol cans and lawn chemicals should also be out of reach.

Using your own play equipment

You may have play equipment in your own garden or outside space that could be a risk for your child.

This includes:

  • climbing frames
  • slides
  • trampolines
  • swings
  • slides
  • other items set up in your garden


  • always supervise them while they play, especially on bouncy castles or trampolines

  • only allow them to play on items suitable for their age

  • check that the equipment is in good condition

  • buy good quality equipment with a recognised safety symbol such as the CE mark

  • make sure there are no sharp edges or bits sticking out which could get caught up in clothing

  • make sure it is secured to the ground safely and properly put together by following the manufacturer's instructions

  • put it in a safe, flat area of the garden, far from powerlines, walls, trees, hedges or hard surfaces in case children fall or jump

  • make sure not to put it on or near concrete, paved, tarmac or other hard surfaces

  • make sure it has suitable safety features such as hand grips, safety nets and padding, particularly for trampolines


  • do not allow your child to play on play equipment in bad weather. This includes during strong winds, storms or heavy rain.

  • do not leave children unsupervised on play equipment.

Bouncy castles

Make sure a bouncy castle is installed by an expert. Follow their instructions for its use.

Do not use a bouncy castle in bad weather. This includes during strong winds, storms or heavy rain.

Keep the area around the bouncy castle clear in case a child jumps or falls off. Watch bigger children around smaller children - they could knock them over.

Do not allow children near the electricity supply for the bouncy castle.


Do not allow children under age 6 to play on a trampoline. Only 1 child at any time should use the trampoline. Always use a safety net.

Remove trampoline ladders after use. This is in case younger children try to use it when you're not around.

Swings and slides

When you install the swing, check that the child will be able to swing without hitting anything. Make sure that if a child jumps or falls off, they won't crash into anything and hurt themselves.

When you're choosing a slide, check that it has safety features to prevent falls such as:

  • high sides
  • guard sections and hand grips
  • ladders and steps securely fixed to the side

Related Content

Child safety checklist for parents including childproofing (PDF, 5.32MB, 2 pages)

Use the HSE's child proofing check list to help you child proof your home to protect your children. This list is also available from your public health nurse.

Child safety wall chart for parents including basic first aid (PDF, 3.22MB, 4 pages)

Print this child safety wall chart and keep within easy access in your home. Includes tips on child safety, first aid information and emergency contact details.

Page last reviewed: 1 December 2023
Next review due: 1 December 2026