What you need to know

  • If your children are in the sun, make sure they’re wearing sunscreen and protective clothing like a sun hat.
  • Outside play areas should ideally be out of the direct sun, fully fenced, and away from driveways, roads, and water dangers like lakes, pools, ponds and rivers.
  • Always stay with and actively supervise your young child when they’re playing outside or around water, and take them indoors with you, even if you’re only going for a minute.
  • Actively supervise your children when they’re riding a trike, bike, or scooter.

Sun safety

A baby or child’s skin is very sensitive and can burn easily. The sun in New Zealand is very strong, and our rates of melanoma (skin cancer) are higher than anywhere else in the world.

That’s why you should (ideally) keep your children out of the sun from 10am–4pm. Even on cloudy days, their skin can still burn.

If your children are in the sun, make sure they’re wearing sunscreen and protective clothing like a sun hat. 

Playing outside

Young children love going outside to play, but they often don’t know or understand the risks that come with outside activities. It’s important to have a safe outside play area to protect them from injuring themselves.

Check that your outside area is:

  • out of the direct sun
  • fenced and away from driveways and roads
  • fenced and away from water dangers like lakes, pools, ponds and rivers.

To help keep your child safe outside

  • Always stay with and actively supervise your young child when they’re playing outside or around water.
  • Take a mobile or cordless phone outside with you – if you forget and need to run inside to answer it, take your child with you.
  • Always take your child indoors with you, even if you’re only going for a minute.
  • Check that children can’t get into a garden shed. Lock all your garden poisons and tools away.
  • Check that your child can’t get onto the road or driveway from their play area.

Trampoline safety

Trampolines can be really fun for small children, but they need to be very careful on them because they’re more prone to serious injury.

  • Always supervise young children on trampolines.
  • Have a rule that there’s only one child on the tramp at a time.
  • Don’t let them try things like somersaults because these can cause serious injuries.
  • The safest trampolines are enclosed by safety net with no springs and no hard edges. Always close the zip when using an enclosed trampoline.
  • If you have an open trampoline, make sure:
    • the frame and springs are securely padded
    • the mat and net don’t have holes
    • the springs are intact and securely attached at both ends
    • the frame is straight
    • the leg braces are locked
    • there are no fences or garden furniture around or under the trampoline and there’s clear space above the trampoline too
    • you have a padded or soft area around the outside of the trampoline, or it’s set into a pit in the ground
    • children bounce in the middle of the mat, not around the edges.

Safety around dogs

As lovable as dogs are, they’re still animals and they can be unpredictable. It’s not a good idea to leave dogs alone with babies or children.

  • Always stay with children when there’s a dog around, especially children who are visiting.
  • Never leave children alone with a dog, even to answer the door or go to the toilet.
  • If you tie your dog up in a public place, consider using a muzzle.
  • Never tie a dog leash to the baby’s pram; hold the leash in your hand.
  • Dogs should have their own toys. If a dog has taken your child’s toy, and the child tries to get their toy back from the dog, the dog may bite them.

What children need to know about dogs

Teach your child:

  • not all dogs are as friendly as their own dog
  • to be calm around dogs
  • to ask the owner’s permission before patting a dog
  • to understand why dogs behave the way they do, and how they might be protecting their property or their family
  • not to tease or annoy dogs
  • not to approach a dog that’s eating, sleeping, has puppies, or is hurt
  • not to hug or kiss dogs. Face-to-face contact is a common cause of bites to the face.

Playground safety

Playgrounds are great for developing children’s physical, social and problem-solving skills, but they’re also a common place for bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes. Occasionally falls can cause more serious injuries like fractures and dislocations.

It’s important you stay close to your child so you can guide them to activities and equipment that suit their age, size, and abilities.

  • Playground equipment less than 1m in height is good for children under three.
  • Playground equipment less than 1.5m in height is good for children aged 3-5 years.

On higher equipment, stay close by – or help them on and off if they’ll let you – so they’re less likely to hurt themselves.

Playgrounds and equipment

It’s a good idea to check out a playground and the equipment in it before you let your children use it.

  • Look for a playground that’s fully fenced to stop young children running on to the road – especially useful if you’re there with more than one child.
  • Look for a safe ground surface like soft rubber matting that would cushion falls and report it to your local council if it’s too worn or if you think the flooring isn’t appropriate.
  • Use buckles on swings if they’re available.
  • Check the temperature of metal slides, poles and other surfaces, as these can get hot enough to burn.

Call PlunketLine on 0800 933 922 if you have any questions about safety when you’re out and about.

Trikes, bikes and scooters

It’s important you choose a tricycle, bicycle or scooter that’s suitable for your child’s age, size and abilities.

Bike helmets are compulsory for anyone who rides a bike on a road.

It’s a good idea to:

  • actively supervise your children when they’re riding a trike, bike, or scooter
  • let your child practise riding in a park or a backyard before heading onto the footpath
  • make sure your child wears a helmet (and knee and wrist pads if they’re especially prone to falls) when they’re riding a bike, trike or scooter.
    • Helmets must meet the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2063:2008 – look for the label.
    • A helmet must be a snug fit – if you can push it sideways, forward or backwards on their head once you’ve done up the clips, it’s too big.
    • Make sure the chin strap is done up and not twisted.
    • Don’t buy a second-hand helmet.
    • Get a new helmet after an accident or impact.
  • teach your child about the hazards around them – cars backing out of driveways, pedestrians coming out of doorways etc
  • dress your child in bright clothes if they’re riding outside your yard – this will help drivers, pedestrians and other riders see them.