Garden fountains are an attractive feature to have in your garden. They come in all different designs and sizes and can be free standing or attached to your wall. They can help to block out background noise and can add peace and tranquillity to your garden especially late at night when there’s usually less background noise around. In fact, many people have commented on how the sound of the flow of water from a fountain can actually help them get off to sleep much better. However, there are two important safety issues to consider when it comes to electric water fountains. One is the safety of the electrics themselves and the other relates to children.
Childproof Your Fountain
Kids in general are often fascinated by water, no matter how old they are, and toddlers in particular will not have any concept of how dangerous a fountain might be. Remember that a child can drown in as little as an inch of water and even 8 year olds should be supervised around a fountain that has more than 3 feet of water in its basin.
Kids, especially when it’s hot, might want to dangle their hand under the flow of water or even take a drink from the fountain so it’s important that this area is kept firmly out of bounds for younger children. In fact, it may be that you decide to wait until the kids are a bit older before you install a fountain as they can be just as dangerous as ponds.
A fence, even if it’s a picket fence, can be a useful deterrent to keep toddlers away from a fountain and, if you do have toddlers around, you should ensure that the basin of your fountain is an inch in depth at the most. Another good addition is to fill the basin with decorative stones or pebbles so that even if a child got into it, their face couldn’t be submerged if they fell over.
You could also buy a fountain where the walls are too high for a child to climb over and where the basin is higher than a child’s head but remember that children grow taller at a rapid rate and our own experiences of childhood will no doubt have taught us that once we were tall enough to climb over something, that was a challenge too good to resist. Therefore, if truth be told, fountains and toddlers don’t really mix and if you do still go ahead, you should ensure that your children are supervised at all times and left in no doubt about the fountain being ‘off-limits’.
Also, you should situate it in a location where it is easily visible from your back door. Don’t situate it too close to the back door however, as small toddlers can easily slip out without you noticing and the closer it is to the door, the less time you’ll have to spot potential danger. On the other hand, don’t locate it at the far end of the garden or behind bushes or trees where older kids may be tempted to play in or around it. You can also buy floating alarms which are triggered by the water’s surface is being disturbed, but this should not be taken as an alternative to due care and vigilance as even if the alarm sounds, by the time you reach your child in the fountain, it could be too late.
Firstly, you should make sure that all the cables running between the power supply and the fountain itself are protected using appropriate conduits or armoured cable. A residual current device (RCD) should also be fitted so that the power circuit will trip immediately if any of the electrical connections are exposed to water.
Electrical cable which is buried underground is far safer than cable running along the ground or attached to fences. If it’s on the ground, people might trip over it and any kind of tool could damage it if you’ve attached it to a fence. If you do decide to bury it, be sure you know where exactly that is so that you won’t risk accidentally using a hoe or fork where it’s lying.
You don’t want the cable to be too tight either so before running the cable between the socket and the fountain, take a tape measure and calculate the distance between the two then add on a further metre’s length which will give the cable more flexibility. You’ll be able to buy cable which has been specifically designed for fountain pumps and it will also have been certified to meet specific safety standards which will be printed on the cable itself. For further information about fountain safety, you should speak to a garden and fountain pond specialist.