Protecting ponds and water features

When the time comes to consider garden child safety issues, without a doubt the most child safe pond is no pond at all. This is not always possible and not everybody would agree. Parents rarely have control over your childrens grandparents or your friends choice of garden. So even if you do not have a pond yourself it does help to know ways to protect fish ponds.

This article looks at ways you can protect your children from a pond without having to fill it in. Child safety around garden ponds is of high importance when making your garden child friendly. Most parents will fill in a pond to fully make sure a child has no risk of drowning. If you think a pond will add to your child’s development and learning but would like to make it safe to learn please read on.

Children love water and are naturally drawn to a pool or pond. Ponds can act as a very good tool for teaching your child safety around water and aquatic environments. The key ages when children are most at risk are ages one through to three years. This is due to their mobility increasing whilst their coordination hasn’t quite caught up. By the age four to five the risk drops as they start to understand dangers and have by this time become more agile, but it is still a risk so you should probably keep you pond protected up to the age of six to eight even beyond.

How to protect a pond.

1. Metal mesh (not chicken wire). Metal mesh is the most popular and cost effective way to cover a pond. The mesh can be purchased from a builders merchant and should be in stock as it is commonly used for reinforcing concrete. The holes in the mesh tend to be around 10/15mm squared. This will allow plants to grow and should be adequate enough to hold the weight of a toddler on a pond less than 1.5m in width or length. It can be cut to the ponds shape and size quite easily. If your pond or water feature is larger than this you will need to add strengthening bars to the areas that dip. This can be done by buying steel bars with a thickness of 20mm plus. The steel can be attached to the under side of the wire mesh using zip ties to attach it. This should all be pegged down around the edge using tent pegs or screws depending on the ground around the pond

2. Fencing.

Having a fence around a pond can offer some safety in protecting your child but this is not fool proof as some toddlers are good climbers. The fence should be at least 1.1m high and have no gaps at the bottom or in the fence itself. Any space for a child to squeeze through is a danger. Attention should also be paid to potential climbing aids such as chairs, box’s and shrubs/trees. Should you choose this option it is also important that the gate has some safety features too. The gate should always open outwards from the pond with the latch or lock being on the inside of the gate and situated up as high as possible. The gate should also be fitted with a spring back mechanism to keep the gate in the shut position when not held open.

3. Commercial products.

Water Scenes offer dry bed waterfalls and pond-less water features, these child friendly pond alternatives give children the enjoyment of moving and falling water without the presence of a pool or pond.

There are a few other commercial products that can be made or fitted to a pool or pond. Safapond offer a system of plastic mesh squares that sit above the water suspended on cables stretched across the pond. The plastic mesh squares can be removed to get access to the pond as they are held in position with clips. the system can be tricky to install and is best left to a competent tradesman rather than treating it as a diy job. Another product/company I have come across is creative pond covers. This is my personal choice as it offers child safety with a dash of style. Each pond cover is hand made to your ponds dimension and is built to add to your gardens overall look. The covers look more like a sculptor rather than a pond safety cover.

Creative pond covers

Safapond system

What not to use.

Wooden frames, pond netting, chicken wire, bamboo, plastic or wire fencing. These product offer little or no safety to your child as they will either rot break or bend.

Rospas web site says…Between the years 1995 and 2005, 147 children under the age of 6 drowned at a residential location, including those who were left momentarily in the bath, those who fell in buckets, those who drowned in residential swimming pools, and those who fell into garden ponds. To find out more click link below
ROSPA web site

By Neil Murkitt