Playing outside is an essential part of childhood and highly recommended by experts as a means to get exercise, gain independence, and find joy away from technology. It also allows children to explore and learn about the world around them. However, as a parent, it's important to ensure that your child stays safe while playing outside. Here are some safety tips to teach your 5-year-old before playing outside.
- Set boundaries - Before your child goes outside to play, set some boundaries. Make sure your child knows which areas are off-limits, such as streets, driveways, and other potentially hazardous areas. You can also use chalk or other markers to define the boundaries of your child's play area.
- Wear appropriate clothing - Ensure that your child is dressed appropriately for outdoor play. This includes wearing comfortable shoes with good traction, weather-appropriate clothing, and a helmet if riding a bike or scooter. Avoid clothing with drawstrings, which can get caught on equipment and pose a hazard.
- Be aware of weather conditions - Before your child goes outside to play, check the weather conditions. If it's too hot or too cold, it may be better to stay indoors. Similarly, if there's lightning or a severe storm warning, it's best to keep your child inside until it passes. Teach your child to come inside if harsh weather conditions occur when they're already out playing.
- Look out for hazards - Scan the play area for potential hazards, such as broken glass, sharp objects, or exposed roots. Remove any hazardous items before your child begins to play. Teach your child to look out for these hazards, as well.
- Teach traffic safety - Teach your child the basics of traffic safety, such as looking both ways before crossing the street, using crosswalks and traffic signals, and staying on the sidewalk. Remind your child to never chase a ball or toy into the street.
- Practice water safety - If there's a pool or other body of water nearby, teach your child about water safety. Teach them to never swim alone, and always have an adult present. If your child doesn't know how to swim, enroll them in swimming lessons.
- Use playground equipment safely - If there's a playground nearby, teach your child to use the equipment safely. Teach them to never jump off of swings or other equipment, and to always hold onto the handrails when climbing stairs.
- Stay in sight - Make sure your child stays within your line of sight while playing outside. If your child is playing with friends, make sure they stay in a designated play area and that someone is supervising them.
- Know what to do in an emergency - Teach your child what to do in an emergency. Make sure they know their address and phone number, and how to call 911 in case of an emergency. It's also a good idea to teach your child basic first aid skills, such as how to clean and bandage a scrape.
- Teach them about stranger safety - Be sure to make your child very aware of rules and protocol when it comes to encountering strangers. Children need to know that they are never to go with another adult unless you have told them it's ok, especially when it's someone that they don't know. Talk with them often and present different scenarios (i.e.: someone is offering candy, someone asks them for their help, etc.) Teach them to scream and yell, "You are not my mom/dad!" as loudly as they can if they feel endangered.
Playing outside is a great way for children to learn and explore, but it's important to keep them safe while doing so. By following these safety tips and teaching your child how to stay safe outside, you can help ensure that your child has a fun and safe outdoor experience!