Ponds can be an enjoyable addition to any household, providing entertainment, education and relaxation for every age – however, as with all areas of natural water they can pose a danger of drowning so pond safety is of vital importance.
If you are installing a new pond you can build in safety elements as you go along, whereas if you inherit or have an existing pond in the garden then it’s important to carry out regular safety checks to remove any hazards and alleviate risk.
- Design the pond with gentle slopes
Make sure the pond itself slopes downwards gently so if anyone did fall in, they might not fall into the deepest area of the water. You could even install rock or steps within the pond edges to help anyone who did slip in, to get back out again. Algae and pond liners make a very slippery combination.
- Supervise children at all times
Make sure children who are playing outside near the pond are constantly supervised – it doesn’t take long for an accident to happen. If possible, make sure access to the pond is not open to children by keeping the back door secure, and make sure you can see the pond from the house, in case they did manage to sneak out.
- Lay down strict rules
Make sure children understand the rules around playing by the pond, from day one, and teach them the dangers of ignoring your advice. It’s important that children understand they are not being punished or told not to play out of spite but for a very important reason. Children should be taught never to play by the pond without a parent as the very basic fundamental rule. They also need to know to behave sensibly around the water and never to try to go into the pond.
- Surround the pond with a fence
One of the simplest ways to improve pond safety is to install a fence around the pond, whether it’s a wooden fence or created from plants or rocks, anything which can restrict immediate access to the water is essential – particularly if you have young children living with you or visiting.
- Secure all pond decorative statues
While decorative fountains and statues look nice, they can also attract the attention of children who might be tempted to try to climb up onto them. Make sure any item like this is firmly secured, to prevent it toppling over into the pond if climbed on.
- Make sure around the pond isn’t too slippery
Check the rocks and areas around the pond to make sure they are not wet or covered in moss or algae or anything which might make them too slippery to venture onto, and encourage children to only walk around the pond area in sensible footwear.
- First aid training
If you have a pond it might pay to be even more prepared by undertaking first aid training so if the worst did happen you’d be able to step in and help support the injured person until help arrived
- Cover the pond
Another option is to install a cover for the pond for when little visitors are around, or some kind of permanent wire netting if you have children at home. This can be installed just below the surface if you don’t want it to look ugly but it will still help to add a layer of extra safety.
- Everyone needs to wash their hands after contact with the pond
Other safety issues which arise from having a pond can be from bacteria and dirt so make sure all family members know to wash their hands straight away after coming into contact with pond water or pond plants and creatures. Children should be discouraged from dipping their hands into the water as a general rule for added safety.
- Pond alarm and night light
While you hope your family obey the rules around sensible pond use, unfortunately you can’t predict what other people might try to do, particularly if there is public access next to your garden. For this reason it might be worth installing an automatic light and alarm for your pond which you can put on at night time. That way, if a passer-by happened to stumble into your garden in the dark they will be alerted to the danger of the water and you will be alerted to the intruder.
A pond should be a wonderful feature in your garden to be enjoyed by all the family, creating delight and encouraging an interest in nature and wildlife and with a few simple precautions and rules, there is no reason why it can’t become a safe environment for everyone to make the most of.