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  Last Updated on 07/13/2018

Keeping Your Toddler Safe Outdoors

Irene Helen Zundel, June 2005

Kids love to romp and play outside, especially in the summer months. While the great outdoors can be great fun, there are some hazards to avoid--lead in garden soil, various stinging and disease carrying insects, and poisonous plants.

Below you will find important information on what to watch out for-- and what to do if your child should get into harmís way! There are also some handy toll free numbers to call, and websites to visit for help and information.

Avoiding lead in the garden:

Have your child wear gloves while gardening.

Plant seeds in raised beds filled with clean soil and compost, instead of in the dirt.

Be sure to check around buildings for paint chips. Throw them away so children can not put them in their mouths.

Make sure you feed your child before they go outside to garden. Studies show that when children ingest lead, they will absorb 80% of it when their stomachs are empty, and only 10% when they are full.

Regularly feed your child a good diet. Foods rich in calcium and iron may prevent absorption of low levels of lead in children. Some calcium rich foods are milk, cheese, and yogurt. Good sources of iron include liver, beef, lamb, spinach, kale, and turnip greens.

Be sure to have children wash their hands thoroughly after gardening.

Have them tested annually for lead, if they are between the ages of one and six.

For more information, contact:

The American Community Gardening Association
8100 N. 20th Street, 5th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1495
(215) 988-8785 FAX (215)988-8810
email: smccabe@pennhort.org
or visit their website at www.communitygarden.org.

You may also want to contact:

The National Lead Information Center
1-800-424-LEAD (424-5323).

Protecting against insects:

When weather permits, dress your toddler in clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Tuck pant legs into socks, wear closed shoes, long sleeved shirts, and a hat. Choose pastel colors, white, green or khaki colored clothing, instead of dark, bright or flowered ones.

Opt for unscented detergents, soaps, diaper wipes, lotions and sun screens. Scented products and perfumes attract bugs.

Using insect repellents designed for children only. Use roll-ons, lotions, or creams, not sprays. Sprays are harder to direct and may inadvertently be inhaled or gotten into the eyes.

To avoid bees, stay away from wildflowers, clover, fruit trees, and overflowing garbage cans. Donít give sticky, sweet treats and juices when you are outdoors, and keep little faces and fingers washed.

To protect against mosquitoes, try using a net cover on your stroller, and avoid being outdoors at night when mosquitoes are in large numbers. Stay away from stagnant water, puddles, and rain barrels where they like to breed.

To prevent bites from venomous spiders, keep children out of warm, dry, dark places, where spiders are likely to hide. avoid attics, unfinished basements, garages, storage sheds, and closets. Remove spider webs around the home, and check items you are taking out of storage. Empty out shoes and boots, and check clothing carefully.

To protect against deer ticks which can cause Lyme disease, avoid hiking and playing in wooded areas. Use insect repellent, and cover the skin as much as possible. Tuck long sleeves into gloves and pant legs into socks, and wear closed shoes and a hat. After hiking, carefully check the hair, body and clothing for ticks. Also check the family pets, as ticks can easily hide in an animalís fur. If you discover a tick, remove it as quickly as possible. It takes only 24-48 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease and cause full blown symptoms.

** To remove a tick, swab the area with alcohol, grasp it with a pair of blunt end tweezers, and pull steadily and evenly in an upward direction. Avoid twisting, jerking, squeezing, crushing or puncturing the tick. Save the tick for identification purposes when you take your child to the doctor. A deer tick is generally the size of a pin head, and is black and brown. Itís bite leaves a reddened, round area that develops a clear ďbullís eyeĒ center.

Protecting your child from poisonous plants:

Many common house and garden plants are poisonous when eaten. To be absolutely safe, avoid having any of the plants listed below around your toddler. If that is not possible, they should be placed up high where toddlers can not reach them, and where leaves and flowers canít fall to the floor. Label each plant with itís common and botanical names so you can report them to your doctor or poison control center in case of accidental ingestion.

Azalea, Caladium, Daffodil bulbs, Daphne, Dumb cane, English ivy, Foxglove, Holly, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Iris, Japanese yew, Jerusalem cherry, Larkspur, Laurel, Lily of the valley, Mistletoe, Morning glory, Narcissus, Oleander, Philodendron, Privet, Rhododendron, Rhubarb, Sweet peas, Tomato, Wisteria

For more information about preventing poisoning in children, contact:



American Association of Poison Control Centers

Source: What to Expect: The Toddler Years, Eisenberg, Murkhoff, and Hathaway, Workman Press, 1994

Ms. Zundel is a freelance writer and parent. She specializes in writing educational and family oriented articles. Visit her online at http://www.greenepa.net/~artwhiz.



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