Exterior living spaces, like sunrooms, decks, and porches, are designed to let families enjoy the outdoors comfortably. They're perfect for family meals, parties, or simple moments of relaxation. However, most outdoor living areas may not be as childproof as the interior of your home. It's important to ensure that our sunrooms, decks, and porches are not just fun but safe for the littlest members of your family. So, we've rounded up a few tips and strategies to make your outdoor spaces kid-friendly and enjoyable for everyone.
1. Safety First
The most important aspect of childproofing is safety. It's essential to approach your exterior living area with an eye for potential hazards, especially those that are within reach of your children. Check for any loose nails, splinters, or sharp edges. Ensure that handrails and balusters are secure. Ensure there are no gaps in the floorboards where little feet could get stuck. Some hazards are universal, like a hot grill, but others may depend on your children's age and size. There's no harm in getting down to your little one's eye level to make a thorough assessment of what you need to do to start making it safer.
2. Secure the Perimeter
Creating a safe environment begins with securing the perimeter of your sunroom, deck, or porch. If you have young children or live near a hazard like a busy street or pool, blocking entrances and exits to prevent your little one from wandering off is important. You can use baby gates or custom-designed ones that fit your aesthetic. Make sure the gates are the right height and have a latch that's childproof but easy for adults to open.
3. Cushion the Corners
Most outdoor spaces feature sturdy furniture crafted from wood or metal, which usually have dangerous edges. Sharp corners on furniture or railings can be hazards for curious kids at play. Invest in corner protectors or bumpers to cushion the edges. These are easy to install and can help prevent injuries.
4. Choose Child-Friendly Furniture
Speaking of furniture, select outdoor furniture that's child-friendly and easy to clean. We suggest chasing materials that are durable, rust-resistant, and unable to shatter (i.e., no glass patio tables). You may even want to opt for tables and chairs with rounded edges and cushions for extra comfort and safety.
5. Soft, Safe Flooring
Most outdoor spaces have a hard flooring surface, such as wood, tiles, or concrete. While these floors are durable, weather-resistant, and easy to clean, they can also be dangerous for little. Consider adding non-slip rugs or even a play mat to provide a softer surface for your children to play on. Plus, most outdoor rugs are easy to clean and can add a touch of style to your space.
6. Childproof Electrical and Heat Hazards
If your sunroom or porch has electrical outlets, use childproof covers to keep curious fingers out, just as you would indoors. Make sure any outdoor lighting is securely fastened and out of reach to prevent accidents. These rules also apply to items that could be hot or have flames, such as fire pits, grills, outdoor heaters, or tabletop pizza ovens.
7. Avoid Climbing Hazards
Kids love to climb, and deck or patio railing can be irresistible to little explorers. To prevent accidents, try to minimize climbing opportunities. Don't place furniture or storage close to the railing, and consider adding clear or mesh barriers to widely spaced railing to keep kids from squeezing through or attempting to climb.
8. Watch Out for Chemicals and Toxins
Keep outdoor tools and chemicals out of reach by investing in a storage solution for gardening tools, paint, or any other hazardous materials. Additionally, ensure the plants in your outdoor space are non-toxic and safe for kids. Some plants can be harmful if ingested, so do your research or consult with a local nursery to ensure your greenery is child-friendly.
Remember, no matter how well you childproof your outdoor space, nothing replaces vigilant supervision. Accompany your child outdoors, and teach your children about outdoor safety, such as not running near the edge of a deck or porch. Childproofing your exterior spaces is a labor of love that ensures everyone can enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and quality family time on your sunroom, deck, or porch.