- 29 Sep 2017
HOW TO MAKE YOUR GARDEN KID SAFE
With all the rain that comes with winter, it’s likely your garden is blooming beautiful, but you might want to check for any unwanted plants that could pose a danger to yourself, children and pets.
As a natural defence mechanism, some Aussie plants have developed a toxicity that can have serious side effects to our health. It’s important to check out the plants in your own back yard, especially if you have kids who are likely to explore, play and potentially eat the plants growing in your garden.
Australia’s 8 most poisonous plants
Native to Queensland and New South Wales the Black Bean thrives along riverbanks and in coastal rainforests. Be wary between March and May, when the Black Bean produces toxic pods that cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
Native to South East Asia and Australia and growing in mostly dry areas, the Strychnine Tree grows tall and bears small, orange-coloured fruits with neurotoxic seeds that can cause convulsions and paralysis.
Sweet smelling with large trumpet shaped flowers, the Angel’s Trumpet is commonly found in Australian gardens and is highly toxic. With high levels of alkaloids found in the leaves and seeds, if ingested symptoms range from diarrhoea to death.
Like the Angel’s Trumpet, Deadly Nightshade is common to Australian gardens and has poisonous berries that contain tropane alkaloids that cause hysteria, hallucinations, erratic behaviour and delirium.
Extremely common in Australian gardens, the oleander is highly toxic if ingested and can cause irritation if touched by the skin.
Found in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, the milky mangrove grows in areas close to the sea level coping well in high-salt areas. It’s the milky sap of this plant that you need to be careful of as it can cause temporary blindness if it comes in to contact with your eyes or skin irritation and blistering.
There are over 2000 species of spurges, many of which are native and widespread across Australia’s mainland. These pretty little flowers contain highly poisonous sap called latex which can cause serious inflammation of the eyes, nose or mouth and can even cause blindness.
Also known as the giant stinging tree, gympie gympie has lots of stinging hairs on the plant’s stem, leaves and fruit that can cause allergic reactions, swelling and searing pain.
Top tips for keeping your garden kid safe
Save the date for a survey
Every spring set a date in the diary to evaluate the safety of your garden.
Back yard security is of paramount importance if you have young children. Check fences are stable and safely secured (without gaps), and that there are no sharp edges. Check that gates are locked and make sure your children know not to leave through the back gate without adult permission/supervision.
Tools and sheds
Owning a home and garden means your to-do list is generally never ending, and it’s tempting to keep your tools handy for when you get 5 minutes to finish a job. Kids love to copy adults so ensure tools, especially heavy/sharp garden tools are stored away in a locked shed.
Make sure play equipment is installed correctly. It also pays to check play equipment every few months for general wear and damage. Have a designated area to store away toys after play to avoid trips and falls.
Pools are a great way for kids to enjoy sunny summer days but they come with risks. Conduct pool safety checks at the starts of summer to ensure your pool adheres to the national safety standards. Ensure the gates and doors to the pool area and self-closing and latch automatically. Avoid putting climbable furniture near to pool fences and educate your children on pool safety – adult supervision is a must in the pool area.
Remove poisonous plants and flowers
Look out for the plants listed above and remove or keep out of reach. Explain to young children not to eat or play with the plants and flowers as many common garden plants can be poisonous when ingested.
Look for pests
Check your outdoor furniture, fences and play equipment for spiders and other Aussie critters that could cause harm or be building nests.
Lock up garden chemicals
Store any garden chemicals such as weed killers out of reach in a locked shed. Many outdoor chemical-based cleaners also pose a potential hazard to young children, simply switch to an outdoor fibre cleaning range to eliminate the risk.
Source: Australian Geographic