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Kid-proofing backyard play areas for unsupervised three to six year-olds is a combination of preventive measures and lots of toys.

While your child playing alone tends to focus on one activity or area, with two or more together expect several simultaneous activities. First rule, then plan the play area for more than one child and plan it for multiple activities, mindful that when your kid's pals are in your yard, you're responsible for their safety too.

Lock up the garden tools and equipment. A shed with a latch door can be fiddled open; in fact, for a youngster, getting it open to access its mysteries is a major challenge.

Those cheap plastic chairs: keep them stacked because they tip as soon as a little person leans the wrong way. For whatever reason, when neatly stacked on the patio, they are generally ignored.

Fencing is always a concern. Can it be climbed? High wood fences work well provided foot and hand holds are eliminated. Wire fences can pinch toes and cut feet. Thick hedges and bushes can be hazardous for eyes.

In the same vein, make sure your "adult" tables are not proximate to the fencing and anchor them. Locate them in areas where nothing is accessible to a child standing on them. Kids will stand on them, bet on it. They are potential stairways to the shed roof, the precarious tree branch, even a tumble into the next yard's concrete patio blocks.

Safety problems can be posed by the attempt to mix adult enthusiasms with those of the kids in the same space. Case in point is the propane barbeque. Great meal, but huge safety hazard for the kids the next day if the propane tank isn't disconnected and locked away.

When all of this is looked after, get out the TOYS, the more the better. Best are trucks and cars, shovels and pails, doll buggies, plastic mud molds, even a trike or other ride-ables if you have the space and no stairs or steep inclines. The closer to the ground the toys, the safer their users. Remember too, sidewalk chalk washes off easily.

Skipping ropes, climbable equipment, bats, racquets, and balls can create problems.

Spreading cheap foam exercise mats on concrete surfaces not only save scrapes but provides another colorful play surface.

Sand boxes are great. Make sure yours has a cover to keep off the rain and, especially, to keep out the critters, which love them for basic toileting. The formed plastic sand boxes are best. They come with lids light enough for toddlers to remove and replace.

Figure on half of the sand being outside the box at any given time. Sift this as you put it back in the box because it may contain yard debris.

If you wish to leave the kids unattended for any length of time, that is, more than a minute or two, a wading pool is not a good idea. Go with a sprinkler, now available in various animal and cartoon character shapes. Usually these are also cheaper than the wading pools, plus they’re more sanitary..

The ultimate kid-proofing you can do is to tune your ears to what's normal out there and what's not and, of course, never be out of earshot for long. Silence in the yard warrants an immediate glance out the window or door. With that, check them regularly.