Spade in garden soil


Garden safety - Staying safe in the garden

It's a well known fact that most accidents occur in and around the home and although your garden is an ideal place to unwind, it calls for the same level of attention as the inside of your home, if accidents are to be avoided.

Here are our tips for avoiding accidents and injuries whilst working in your garden:

  • When using equipment such as a strimmer, work a safe distance away from other people or pets.
  • Wear the correct eye and ear protection and protective clothing, including rubber-soled shoes with closed toes.
  • Never work while standing on an unsteady surface such as a stool.
  • If you are working on a ladder make sure it is placed on a level surface. Ladders should be held or secured.
  • When using a hedge trimmer or chain saw, do not trim or cut higher than your shoulders, especially if you are in a tree or on a ladder.
  • Before using any tool or appliance, read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the equipment you are using.
  • When using electrical tools or extension cords in the garden, make sure they are designed for outdoor use.
  • Inspect your garden tools before use for frayed cable or damaged parts.
  • If the product is damaged, don't use it and don't attempt to make repairs yourself. Return the product to the retailer or manufacturer if it is new or under warranty, or have the product repaired by a reputable company.
  • Never tamper with a product or remove safety features.
  • Check that electric switches on your garden appliance are OFF before you plug it in.
  • Check the ladder before using it for broken rungs or any other damage.
  • Don't over-reach whilst working up a ladder. It is far safer to re-position the ladder.
  • If you have a petrol-driven lawnmower, ensure you store the petrol in an approved container, away from possible sources of ignition.
  • Keep your hands and feet away from the mower's blades and never reach under the mower for any reason while the mower is in use.
  • Wear gloves and sturdy shoes with a good grip when walking behind a hand mower, to avoid the risk of slipping.
  • If you are using an electric mower or power tool wear rubber-soled shoes and make sure the appliance is fitted with a residual current device which will cut-off the electricity supply if you have an accident.
  • NEVER let a child ride on or operate a garden tractor or ride-on mower, even if the child is supervised.
  • Do not leave garden tools lying around - someone could trip over them and injure themselves. If you must do this ensure they are not placed where they could be a tripping hazard.
  • Do not attempt to use a lawnmower while small children are present and pay particular attention when reversing.
  • Never leave power tools or lawnmowers unattended - sharp blades can cause serious injuries, even when the appliance is not in use.
  • Never work with electrical power tools in wet or damp conditions.
  • Inspect your garden tools and lawnmower regularly for frayed cables, loose belts, missing or damaged guards, and accumulation of grass, leaves or excessive grease.
  • If your electricity supply does not have an RCD trip box, protect yourself while using electrical equipment outside by installing a special socket or a plug-in adapter.

How safe is your garden? Poisonous plants

  • A number of garden plants are poisonous if eaten, whilst others may cause skin irritation if handled.
  • Small children in particular are often attracted by brightly coloured berries, leaves and petals and may pick them or pop them in their mouths. Often this causes only mild symptoms, however some plants are capable of causing severe poisoning, so it's well worth taking steps to protect your child.
  • Familiarise yourself with the plants and trees in your garden and identify those which may be harmful to your child.
  • If you cannot identify a plant or tree, take a sample to your local garden centre for identification.
  • If you identify poisonous plants or trees, ensure you keep young children away and educate older children about the potential risks.
  • Consider removing highly toxic plants such as foxgloves, deadly nightshade, rhubarb, oleander and mistletoe altogether.
  • Teach your children never to put the leaves, berries or flowers of unknown plants in their mouth.
  • If you child has eaten any part of a poisonous plant call your doctor immediately or, in severe cases call an ambulance or take your child straight to A&E, along with any leaves, seeds or berries.
  • Enrol on a first-aid course so that you can deal with any emergency situations which may arise.

Water safety

  • Children can drown in less than 4 cm of water, so it is vital that children who are swimming or playing near water in your garden should be supervised by an adult.
  • Very young children are most at risk but even older children who can swim can get into difficulties, so it is important to follow some common-sense guidelines.
  • Empty paddling-pools and turn them upside down after use.
  • If you have a swimming pool, it should ideally be fenced off with a self-closing, spring-lock gate. The gate should also be locked, unless an adult is present to supervise.
  • Your swimming pool should have clear signs, indicating the deep and shallow ends of the pool.
  • All pool chemicals should be stored out of the reach of children.
  • A plastic reaching pole, buoyancy aid with throwing line and first-aid kit should be kept close to the pool.
  • Children with armbands, rubber rings and other buoyancy aids should never be left unattended in the pool - even for a few minutes!
  • Teach your children basic water safety rules and ensure they learn to swim as early as possible.
  • Garden ponds should be securely fenced off or even filled-in, to avoid the danger of small children falling in and drowning.