While gardening is a useful hobby for kids to learn about nature, flowers, plants, and grow fruits and vegetables, one cannot overlook some hidden dangers in the garden. The garden can be a hazardous place if proper and due precautions are not taken. Suppose kids are inspired to play in the garden and wander around the park for academic and recreational purposes, there needs to be an awareness of the threats and how to stay safe.
Sometimes sneaking in the shrubs or under plants can be squirrels, rats, foxes, etc. As appealing as this might be for kids, a disturbed wild animal can quite quickly become a dangerous one. While most of these will manage to run for life at the sound of human footsteps or voices, some may adopt a more wary or even offensive stance, resulting in scratches or bites.
In the event of injury, first aid must be applied to the injured area, and the necessary clinic/medical attention sought due to infections’ risk.
Insect stings and bites are generally non-life-threatening for most people, but this depends on the type of insect and the person’s sensitivity. For many kids, a sting or bite can result in distress and the initial shock. However, for a few others, it might result in a lethal allergic reaction. Kids must be informed of the need to be careful when insects such as wasps, spiders, and bees are nearby – boisterous behavior might result in a sting attack.
After spending time in the garden, care must be taken to ensure bugs are not caught in the kid’s hair or clothing and are shaken off to remain in the garden environment before entering into the house. Kids must be encouraged to report wounds and injuries. First-aid needs to be given, and the child must be observed for any signs of irritation, e.g., swelling, redness or soreness to the area. Medical attention is required if the child develops a more severe reaction, such as difficulty in breathing, widespread rashes, etc.
Berries and Plants
Berries and plants are beautiful to look at, given their vibrant colors. However, some are very toxic, and even touching the leaves can result in an allergic reaction. Also, thorns and stinging nettles can often be hidden amongst the berries. Injury from these can result in small abrasions through which soil may enter and lead to a localized infection and, to the extreme, a more deadly and life-threatening one.
Kids need to be taught which plants are safe and which ones are not. They should be made to wear the right protective clothing, e.g., gloves and sturdy footwear, which will help protect them. Also, the practice of thoroughly washing hands before touching food is vital after returning home from a play date at the park.
Finally, equipment is another danger that can easily be overlooked. While lawnmowers are in use, young children need to be supervised to avoid trouble from moving parts, flying pebbles (rocks can be displaced and smash windows or cause facial fractures), hanging cords, etc. There is a real damage that can stem from poorly stored garden equipment or inadequate supervision, e.g., a rake left hidden in the grass, a large spade left against the wall.
Gardening remains an excellent opportunity for children to learn while having fun, but due care and attention is required to ensure the fun does not harm them. With the right protective clothing, the right attitude and responses towards wild animals and insects, careful supervision, prompt medical intervention and first aid, gardening for children will not only be fun but a safe pastime.