Pond Safety and Fun for Kids

Garden ponds are a great way to bring the wonders of Mother Nature to your home. Ponds are fascinating features for children and can be very educational. Observing the development and growth of animals and plants that reside by your pond will captivate children and is something that can bring a family closer together. There are plenty of benefits of having a pond but there can also be dangers. Even a shallow pond can pose a threat and care will need to be taken. If proper safety measures are in place, having a pond close to home can be a fun and memorable experience in your child or grandchild’s life.

Pond Safety Tips:

In the early stages of childhood when children are just taking their first steps and exploring the enormous world around them, the greatest amount of pond safety possible is of upmost importance. Here are just a few precautionary safety measures:

Fencing – Fencing around the pond is very important when you have children of any age. Kids are adventurous and love to find ways around obstacles that are blocking their path. That is why it is important to find the right fence. The fencing should be tall and not have any large gaps along it or at the bottom; there shouldn’t be any space to squeeze through! Keep an eye out for anything around the pond that can aid in climbing over the fence. Garden chairs, bushes, trees, boxes, etc., should be kept far away from the pond. Any latches to open a gate in the fence should be up high and located on the inside of the fence. Make sure the gate has a spring-door mechanism to ensure the gate door can never be left open.

Gently Sloping Edges – On top of having a fence, it is a good idea to make sure your pond has a gentle slope leading in, rather than a steep drop. This way, if a child somehow breaks through the barricade, they will not fall very deep. Make sure your pond has rock or metal grating around the shallow slope so that if any mishaps do happen, the child will be able to catch their footing; pond liner alone can be very slippery.

Safety Grids & Covers – Luckily there are very sturdy pond safety grids and covers available on the market that will prevent children from falling in the water. Some can even be installed just slightly under the water’s surface so to not change the outward appearance of the pond.

Pond Alarm – Alarms on doors leading to the pond area can be a very good and effective method of pond safety. If someone goes into the garden pond space, a brief alarm will sound and everyone in the home will know about the activity before there's much chance of any child getting into the water.

Keeping Pond Area Clean & Free of Clutter – Cleaning and tidying the area around your pond is just as important as cleaning the water inside of the pond. Slippery leaves, rubbish, or small decorations can be the cause of tripping and falling. Keep your pond area maintained, and decorations out of the way of children, for the safest environment. Additionally, while pond maintenance equipment is very important to have, it should be put away when not in use. Items like pond vacuums have cords than can be a tripping hazard for children playing in the garden. Even under a watchful eye, this can become a danger. Be mindful about where you keep your pond water treatments and pond fish food. These items should be kept up high and locked away in a garden shed if possible.

When children become older, the best way to prevent pond accidents are establishing garden rules. Keep the rules posted by any doors leading to the garden and make sure to remind the children of the rules often. Some examples may include:

  • Nobody allowed in the garden without an adult.
  • Ask an adult’s permission before viewing the pond.
  • No running, jumping, or pushing near the pond.
  • No swimming.
  • Wear proper shoes in the garden; trainers or boots with grip on the bottom. No flip-flop sandals!
  • Do not touch any creatures you find near the pond.
  • Wash hands after being near the pond.

Now that the safety measures and garden rules are laid out, there is a lot of fun to be had in a pond environment!

Pond dipping is an activity that is common amongst pond lovers with little ones. There is amazing wildlife in and around your pond water that is waiting to be explored. It is an excellent way for children of any age to be introduced to an array of plants, birds, amphibians and insects. Children can also channel their creativity by drawing/colouring their findings. Pond dipping is an educational opportunity for adults to teach children about nature’s food chains, lifecycles and the importance of keeping pollution away from aquatic life. You will be amazed how many animals and insects are living in your garden and find refuge in your pond water. This simple activity only requires a few items: a catch net, a tray/viewing container, a magnifying glass, a spoon, a pond guide and a camera / pencil & paper.

Make sure your trainers or boots are on and approach the pond water slowly and quietly – you do not want to disturb any creatures nearby! When you are near the edge of the water, take a minute to observe. Have a look around for any bird species or amphibians like frogs. 

After you take a moment to have a look at the surroundings, have an adult fill the tray or viewing container with some of the pond water.

Use your catch nets and gently sweep it around in figure of 8 motions. After a minute or so, remove the net from the water and turn it inside out into your viewing container.

Tip: Swirling your net around areas where there is a lot of vegetation will typically give you the best results. Pond wildlife species enjoy being in planted areas where they have shelter and food.

After the water in the viewing container has settled, have a look at what you have found. Using a guide is a great way to find out more information about your findings. Thanks to the Woodland’s trust, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, we have attached some of their handy guides and activity sheets that will keep you informed during your exploration.

Woodland Trust Pond Dipping Guide

RSPB Pond Dipping Guide

RBKC Pond Dipping Guide

When you've finished dipping, carefully pour the contents of your viewing container back into the pond - remember to be gentle and respectful of the living creatures you catch. Always put your findings back where you found them and give the equipment that was used a thorough clean. If you're planning to use your net in a different pond, an adult should soak it in fresh, hot water to avoid transferring any foreign bacteria from one pond to the next.

By having safety measures in place and rules made up, a pond in your garden can be a wonderful feature. Adults and children alike will be able to enjoy the benefits that a pond has to offer and family time in the garden can be made exciting. If you have any safety tips or pond activities that you would like to share, let us know! Leave your comments or contact us on our support centre.