Keeping your child safe when playing outdoors

Encourage children to play outdoors whenever possible. It helps with their development and physical activity.

But you should look out for dangers that may be a risk to children.

Always supervise children playing outdoors.

Important

Check your child's clothing. Make sure that there are no cords or strings that could get caught and cause strangulation when they are playing.

Playing in the garden

If 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 lawnmowers, strimmers and hedge cutters
  • they are not playing near a barbecue
  • anything that can collect water is emptied, covered or not accessible to children - this includes buckets, paddling pools and other water containers

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

To keep children safe on all types of play equipment you should:

  • only allow them to play on items suitable for their age
  • supervise them while at play, especially on bouncy castles or trampolines
  • 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, not too near powerlines, walls, trees, hedges or hard surfaces in case children fall or jump
  • make sure not to put it on or near a 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.

Some equipment your child might play on poses some specific risks.

Bouncy castle

If you get a temporary piece of equipment like a bouncy castle, make sure it is installed by an expert. Follow their instructions for its use.

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.

Trampolines

Do not allow children under 6 to play on a trampoline. Allow only 1 child on the trampoline at any time. 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 child-proofing (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 wallchart for parents including basic first aid (PDF, 3.22MB, 4 pages)

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

Page last reviewed: 28 March 2019
Next review due: 28 March 2022

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