The Danger of Ponds

Ponds make an attractive and interesting feature in the garden but they also pose a danger, especially to children, so it’s important to ensure your pond is safe. If you have young children it’s recommended that you don’t build a pond until they are older – at least over the age of six but it’s advisable to wait until they are a teenager.

If you move to a house with an existing pond and have children under the age of six, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSpa) recommends filling in a pond completely to prevent drowning. Sadly, around five children each year drown in garden ponds and even if you are supervising a child in the garden, it only takes a few minutes for a child to fall into a pond and drown.

Even if you don’t have children, when building a pond, it’s worth remembering that if you were to sell your house in the future, a family with children may move in. Alternatively you may have visiting grandchildren or friends with children who could be attracted to the pond. And although your own children may be aware of the dangers of a pond and behave sensibly when in the garden, they may have friends who are not used to ponds and may be tempted to explore near the water.

Here are some tips to ensure pond safety for children:

  • When choosing the location for your pond, make sure it can be seen from the house so that you can see if children are playing too close to the pond. Of course, young children should never be left alone outside if you have a pond, so watching from the house isn’t advisable – instead you should go outside with them.
  • Design your pond to have edges that slope gently rather than edges that drop suddenly into deep water.
  • Invest in a safety grid that sits just below the surface of the water or cover a small pond with wire mesh. You can find these online or at most good garden centres.
  • Consider putting a fence around your pond to prevent children from getting too close.
  • If an existing pond has deep sides, grow plants around these areas to prevent children from getting close to the edge.
  • Remember that the shape and features of a pond change over time so it’s important to regularly check a pond for new dangers – such as a broken fence or a hole in the safety mesh.

No matter how many precautions you take, ponds, water features, rain barrels and even buckets of water can all pose a risk to children so there is no substitute for supervising your child when they are in the garden. It’s also important to teach them about water safety as soon as they are old enough to understand so that they know although water can be fun, it can also be incredibly dangerous.

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