Being outside is great for children and having your own garden provides an ideal outdoor space for children to run around and play. But there are dangers involved in gardens and one major one is water and ponds. If you’ve been playing it safe and avoiding ponds, but would like to install one at some point, when is it safe to go ahead and get a pond put in?
When it comes to water, children are naturally inquisitive. But even the most shallow or innocuous looking areas of water can prove fatally dangerous for young children. Leaning into a pond to see what’s lurking in the water, or throwing in leaves to float on the water may seem like tame activities, but the slightest misplacement of feet or awkward movement can cause a child to lose their balance and fall in. Ponds especially can be deceptive with their depth and what may seem like a very shallow area of water can harbour hidden depths in the middle.
It’s no wonder then that parents are advised to avoid having ponds in their gardens, at least when children are young, or take precautions to try and minimise the risks of any existing ponds in the garden. Even where a parent is supervising a child, accidents can occur in seconds and toddlers can drown very quickly in small amounts of water.
Children’s Age and Pond Safety
Pond drowning incidents are particularly prevalent in children under the age of six years old, so it’s no surprise that parents are advised to avoid having ponds with children under the age of six. In fact, between the ages of one and two years old, when they’re just getting active and are into everything, children are at the most risk of having an accident involving water and drowning in a pond.
However, if you really want to have a pond in your garden, perhaps for encouraging nature and wildlife, then the minimum age of your children for installing a pond, as recommended by safety organisations such as RoSPA, is six years old. By this time, children are more mobile and are beginning to understand the idea of danger and take note of parental warnings to avoid ponds. Although accidents may still sadly occur, there’s not quite such a huge risk, or at least not statistically.
Safe Pond Installation
If you do decide that you want to go ahead and install a pond when your child is six years old or over, then there are simple safety measures you can take to reduce the risk of accidents and ensure the pond is as safe as possible. For example:
- Fitting some mesh or a grill over the top of the pond can help prevent children falling in. The mesh or grill does need to be sturdy though and be able to support the weight of a child.
- As an alternative to mesh or a grill, you could put a form of heavy duty wooden trellis over a pond.
- Heavy duty mesh should be about 6mm-8mm in diameter.
- Avoid using wire such as chicken wire, as this isn’t sturdy enough for this purpose.
- Although it may be tempting to erect a fence around the pond, it can backfire. For example, children may be even more intrigued to see what lies on the other side.
- When you’re choosing the location of the pond, it’s best positioned where you can see it clearly from the house.
- For safety purposes, it’s better to have the edges of the pond gently sloping inwards, rather than with a sudden drop into very deep water.
- Grill or mesh covers should be left in situ for as long as it takes for children to realise and understand the full dangers of ponds and water.
In addition to these safety measures, you can help prevent the chance of accidents by educating your children about Water Safety and how to be safe around ponds