Backyard Gate Safety

Updated on April 26, 2011
A.P. asks from Morrisville, PA
5 answers

I thought I'd ask, since I've always received such great help, support and ideas on here. So my husband and I will be going away soon for FOUR nights without our kids! This has never happened before, but I'm weaning our daughter, and my husband is finishing his MBA, so we really need this time together. My sister is taking our kids, which is great. Problem is, she has a busy house, five kids and a dog, plus her house is the one that all the neighborhood kids love to hang out in. She lives in a busy town, and her backyard leads to an alley--she has a fence with a gate, but both kids and adults going in and out of her yard leave the gate unlocked--some because they are too little to reach up and around to lock it, so they just push it shut, and others are just negligent (even her own kids). So many kids are in and out all day, it's impossible to keep tabs on everyone's comings and goings. I'm really nervous about my daughter, who is almost 2, wandering out into the alley. My sister's youngest is the same age, and she has found him in the alley at least once, after someone left the gate shut but not locked (her son just pushed on it and it opened). I don't know if her gate can be locked automatically--I don't know enough about these things, but the gate doesn't "fall" shut--it actually gets a little stuck on the ground so you have to lift and pull it shut. Does anyone have any ideas for how the gate can be made more secure, or tips on how to deal with this? I want to talk to her about it, but I want to offer helpful suggestions or simple solutions. Thanks in advance.

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answers from Seattle on

Hmmm, I don't know how you can fix the gate, or what suggestions you could make to have it safer, but I do think you should just talk with your sister and admit that you're worried. Don't go over the top and make it seem like you think her home is unsafe, just focus on the fact that this particular thing (the kids being allowed in and out of the gate on their own) is not something that your kids are used to, and you're worried that your two year old, in particular, won't know what to do if she finds herself able to wander off on her own.

I think if your sister knows that you're anxious about it she'll likely take some precautions on her own and/or just pay extra special attention to ensure your kids are safe AND that you can enjoy your time away without being worried. Oh, and if your older child is mature enough, you could ask him/her to pay special attention to their little sister while visiting their aunt.

No matter what, enjoy your time away and check in with your kids and sister each day if you want to. There's nothing wrong with a quick phone call to put your mind at ease.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Go to Home Depot and pick up a self locking gate latch that can be opened from both sides. They run about $10 and are easy to put on. Put it up high so the little kids will not be able to reach it. Take a shovel and dig out the dirt under the gate so it closes without a problem and the gate should be made so it leans in the right direction so it will close with just a gentle nudge. A quick adjustment on the hinges will do the trick there.

But more important, have a talk with your sister about watching your kids more closely when they are outside. They will only be there a few days so she should be able to handle it. Tell her, they are not used to having "free range" and need to be watched. She's your sister, if you can't talk to her, then that's a whole different problem. And enjoy your free time with your husband.


answers from Sacramento on

Ask her to join you and go to Home Deopt or Lowes. Find the outdoor section, and ask an employee how to make the gate safer for L. ones and ideas on self-latching gates. They are very helpful at my city's Home Depot :)

If she doesnt want to, or cant, change the gate due to cost, maybe suggest splitting the cost with her, for all the childrens' safety!



answers from Miami on

I don't mean to alarm you with my personal concerns, but if I was leaving my precious children with someone who can't even keep tabs on their own children, I wouldn't leave my children with that person. That is just me. Before your sister lets any child outside, she should be checking for herself and not leaving it to chance that the gate is locked. If it were me, I'd put a lock on the gate that has a combo that only the adults know the way to open it.



answers from Albany on

Install a baby fence across the gate opening to keep the babies in when the gate is left open or openable. Older children and adults can step over it. If a child is too small to step over the baby fence, they do not belong in the alley anyway.

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