At the first signs of warmer weather, kids are anxious to get outside, explore and burn off excess energy—which is great! But it’s important for parents and caregivers to be aware of some simple precautions they can take to make sure outdoor play is both fun and safe. Here are The Toy Association’s top five tips for safe outdoor play all summer long:
1. Supervise, supervise, supervise.
Kids are inquisitive and fast, so active adult supervision during outdoor play is crucial. We encourage parents to be especially vigilant when kids are playing near or in the water, including at the beach, around swimming pools—even near “kiddie” pools—and so on.
The same goes for driveways and streets with traffic. Keep toys away from these “danger” zones when they’re not being used, so children aren’t tempted to chase a toy into an unsafe situation. All it takes is one second of distraction for a serious accident to happen.
2. Get their gear on.
Helmets, knee pads and other protective gear are a must when playing with all ride-on toys. Parents should set a good example by also wearing the appropriate safety gear when heading out for a family bike ride. Make sure kids are riding on smooth, paved surfaces without any traffic and don’t let kids ride their bikes at dusk, when drivers will have a hard time spotting them.
3. Stay organized.
You’ll want to keep your toys stored in order to prevent slips, trips and falls. Having them organized also helps you to keep tabs on anything that might need to be replaced or repaired. If you have access to a garage or outdoor shed, you can designate “parking” spaces for larger outdoor toys like bikes and other ride-on toys, while smaller items, like skateboards, chalk and bubbles do well in bins or on shelves.
5. Beware of balloons.
Balloons are a blast, especially summer water balloon play. But many parents don’t realize that uninflated balloons and broken balloon pieces can be a choking hazard for young kids. So, whether your kids are cooling off with water balloons or they get one at a birthday party, be extra careful by clearing away deflated balloons and broken pieces so they don’t end up in the hands—and mouths—of little ones.
5. Shop at reputable retailers.
Garage sale season is here, and durable and timeless toys like building blocks, board games and dolls are generally great finds at garage sales—but you should never sacrifice safety and quality for bargain-bin prices. Second-hand toys should only be lightly used, never broken or missing parts. And although recalls are rare, you’ll want to make sure that the toy you’re considering buying hasn’t been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (visit recalls.gov to search for the toy or game at hand).
When in doubt, always shop at a retailer you know and trust. The toy industry works year-round to ensure that all toys on store shelves are reliable and safe! For more trusted advice about keeping kids safe while they play all year long, visit The Toy Association’s website for families, www.PlaySafe.org.