Toby and Roo has shared her top tips for garden pond safety. Read on to find out more... As a child I loved ponds, no idea why but I was always captivated by the water and this eco-system, especially fish ponds. I remember having a beautiful pond in our garden – nothing big, just a small rectangular pond with a couple of fish. If we ever visited friend’s houses with huge ponds I was in my element. I always wanted a pond in my own garden, especially once I had kids. Yep, whilst everyone else was talking about filling in the pond because they were having kids, I was talking Adam around to digging one out and kitting it out with fish and lily pads. It took a bit of convincing because, like most people, he was concerned about the safety of a pond. There are so many horror stories of accidents that have occurred with children and garden ponds, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a pond safely. If you drive a car, you are exposing a child to risk - it’s a part of life, but with proper management we can minimise risk. Here are a few tips for pond safety with kids:
1.) Talk to the kids about pond safety. We spend so much time and money making stuff safe that we often forget the most basic thing: safety talks. I realise that this isn’t always possible - Edith is only 16 months old so “the talk” doesn’t work for her, but it does carry weight with Reuben (5) and Toby (3). It’s important to set up guidelines - don’t go too close, don’t climb in and don’t go past the barrier.
2.) Build a “barrier” or “no go zone” Our pond is built where we used to have a rockery, and as such it has a little wall around that raises it above garden level. The boys know that unless we are there they don’t cross that line – usually they don’t. There are going to be the odd occasions but largely they respect the boundary and there are consequences if they don’t.
3.) Invest in swim safety training Easily done through baby swimming, especially classes like Water Babies which we’ve always taken. They teach the baby or child what to do if they fall into a body of water, not just how to swim like a traditional swim class - it’s fine to swim in a swimming pool but how do you teach kids about what to do in a dangerous situation? It’s vitally important and I can say with honesty that all of my children (even Edith) can kick to the surface of the water they have “fallen into” and find something to hold on to.
4.) Use it! I love a good pond, but people forget that there is so much to learn from one. Even if you don’t have fish, you have a mini eco-system there to teach your kids about, which in turn leads to their respect and understanding of the potential dangers a pond could hold. You can download tonnes of great factual sheets or do online quizzes to help with whatever key stage your child is at.
5.) Supervision. It isn’t patronising to put this here - supervision isn’t always possible, so why have something that is unsafe if you then can’t let the kids be alone? Same reason you have a climbing frame they could harm themselves falling out of. There comes a point where you have to trust them, but there is no harm in supervising. My kitchen window faces the back garden, so I can keep an eye on them, but if I’m in my office corner, that isn’t the case. It’s about having a balance. Like I mentioned before, we have a buddy system with Toby (3) - and he goes out to play with Reuben, or after he’s had a good talk about the pond I may allow him on his own, but I keep checking out him. It has grown up knowing not to go near the pond and can swim full lengths so I afford him an element of trust on occasion… something he hasn’t broken. Edith is a flat out no for going outside unsupervised because the risks don’t compute to her yet.