When I was little I always had a thing with ponds. I loved them, especially fish ponds. I remember having a beautiful pond in our garden – nothing big, just a small rectangular pond with a couple of fish. I’d sit for hours watching them!
As such I always wanted a pond in my own garden, especially once I had kids. Yep, whilst everyone else was talking about filling in the pond because they were having kids, I was digging one out… Well, Adam was while I “supervised”. Then a few weeks ago I read a thread on Facebook about garden ponds and I was so surprised by how many people were of the opinion that they should be banned. All you could see was a sea of comments about how dangerous they are, how irresponsible to have one with kids and how children didn’t understand the risks so they shouldn’t be exposed.
What? Do we refuse to put kids in cars now because it’s ‘too dangerous’? How about going to playgrounds in case they fall from a slide and break a bone? No. That would be insane, and the truth is, life is riddled with risk. So the question is, how do you minimise the risk a pond creates?
Here are a few tips for pond safety with kids:
1.) Talk to the kids about pond safety.
We spend so much time and money making stuff safe that we often forget the most basic thing: safety talks. Granted this only works over a certain age, but Reuben and Toby both know (and more importantly understand) that there is an element of danger to the pond. They are not to get in, try to get in, or get to close to the edge.
2.) Build a “barrier” or “no go zone”
So our pond is built where we used to have a rockery, and as such it has a little wall around that raises it above garden level. The boys know that unless we are there they don’t cross that line – usually they don’t.
3.) Invest in swim safety training
This can be done through baby swimming, especially classes like Water Babies which we’ve always taken. They teach the baby or child what to do if they fall into a body of water, not just how to swim like a traditional swim class. It’s vitally important and I can say with honesty that all three kids (even Edie) can drop into water and find a surface to hold on to after kicking to the surface. It is, hands down, the best money we’ve ever spent and continues to be a saturday thing for Edie and Toby.
4.) Use it!
I love a good pond, but there is so much to learn from one. Even if you don’t have fish, you have a mini eco-system there to teach your kids about, which in turn leads to their respect and understanding of the potential dangers a pond could hold. I used to spend hours looking at different water bugs, it’s something really important for kids to learn about and enjoy.
5.) DO NOT be tempted to buy “safety covers”
These are a pet hate of mine. What does a “safety cover” say to you? This is safe, you can walk across it (in some instances) and you don’t have to worry about the potential danger. I call bullshit. Firstly, a walk across safety cover means your kids will assume it’s safe to walk over water – it isn’t. Even iced over lakes, never ever safe. Secondly, it just gives off the false impression that you don’t have to watch your kids near a pond or that you don’t have to teach them that it could be a danger. That’s rubbish. I NEVER let Edie go outside alone, not even if she is with her brothers. She isn’t old enough to understand “don’t go past here” so I can’t take the risk. Safety covers give the impression you can. Just no.
It seems a bit silly to put this here as it’s a no brainer, but its also not practical all the time. So why have something that is unsafe if you then can’t let the kids be alone? Same reason you have a climbing frame they could break their neck on. There comes a point where you have to trust them, but there is no harm in supervising. We’re lucky that my kitchen window faces the back garden, so I can keep an eye on them, but if I’m in my office corner, that isn’t the case. It’s about having a balance. No Edie outside without me, but at 3 and 5 years old, I feel I can talk to the boys about not going near the pond and let them out. Together. If something happened to one, the other would get me. So, yeah, supervision.
What else would you add? Did you have a pond as a child?