Accidents at home can happen at any time – especially around high-risk areas like the garage and driveway. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, injuries in these areas are on the rise. In fact, over 130 garage and driveway incidents are reported each week between July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021, many of which involve children.
As a netball superstar and toddler mum, April Brandley knows a thing or two about how to prevent injury both on and off the court.
As a Major Partner of Netball NSW, Merlin sat down with the former Sydney GIANTS netball pro to discuss her tips on how she keeps herself and her family safe around the garage and driveway.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your netball career?
I am a former professional netball player who had the privilege of playing for the Sydney GIANTS for four years in the position of goal defence.
At the end of 2019, I took a step back from playing professionally to become a mother for the first time. I then went on to have the privilege of signing with the Sydney GIANTS in 2020.
Throughout my career, I have represented Australia both at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2019 Netball World Cup.
Why netball? Was there a certain moment or player that inspired you?
I really got into netball through my family. Being the youngest of two sisters and having a mum who were all heavily involved in the sport, I naturally fell in love with the game.
Do you train at home?
From time to time I train from home, however, when I do I prioritise creating a safe and secure environment for my little one. Taking the necessary measures to ensure the driveway and garage are safe by eliminating any potential hazards is crucial.
I always establish designated play areas for my son’s activities, and when I am training at home, I always make sure he is closely supervised at all times.
When you were a kid did you play any driveway games/did you have a netball hoop in the driveway?
Yep! Growing up, we definitely played games on our driveway, and we had a basketball hoop set up in our backyard. However, nowadays as a mother, I always make the important steps to ensure our driveway and garage are secure and free from potential dangers.
Ensuring small objects such as garage door remotes are child safe, out of reach and if they have button batteries ensure they are safely secured with a screw which can be a real hazard to small children like my son.
How do you approach driveway and garage safety?
When it comes to garage and driveway safety, my approach is centred around establishing firm boundaries. Especially as we live on a street that can get quite busy, it’s important to instill a strong sense of caution and awareness in my family. We emphasise the importance of maintaining a safe distance from the road and moving vehicles.
How do you approach safety discussions with your son?
When it comes to discussing safety with my son, my approach is to convey the importance of being aware of our surroundings and how to keep safe in a way he can understand and relate to.
For example, we always make sure to let him know that it’s important to hold hands near the road to keep everyone safe. I explain that cars are much bigger than we are and that sometimes they may not see us when we cross, so we need to be extra careful.
It’s also important that we see the driveway as a ‘mini-road’ and that parents must stay alert and aware of their surroundings when moving around the garage and driveway.
How do you think your time as a professional athlete has shaped your view of safety?
As a professional athlete, my view of safety has been shaped by the experiences and demands of my career. Safety is not only crucial for a good performance in a game but also for my overall well-being. Being safe on the court is paramount to avoid injuries and ensure I can keep playing for as long as possible.
This belief extends far beyond the court and begins at home. Being mindful and aware of the possible risks to myself and my family at home is the first step in minimising accidents and incidents.
Whether it’s doing a proper warm-up before a game or keeping my driveway free from bikes and scooters, safety is always number one.
What safety tips do you have for the Merlin community?
There are a few tips I recommend to help keep your home and family safe:
- Lay down strong ground rules for kids about how to keep safe around the garage and driveway. If they slip up, use it as a learning opportunity as to why it is important they stay safe and don’t play around the garage or driveway unsupervised.
- Keep aware of your surroundings. Cars that have reverse cameras are a great way to monitor the driveway as you come and go.
- Check how safe your garage is with the Merlin and Kidsafe garage safety checklist. The checklist includes simple changes you can make to easily improve the safety of your garage for your family.
- Installing Merlin’s Safety Beams is another great way to ensure that your garage door reliably auto-reverses when the beam is obstructed by kids, pets or vehicles, preventing injury.
Thank you, April for taking the time to sit down with us and discuss all things safety at home and on the courts. Congratulations on your incredible career playing professional netball, and we wish you all the best for your future endeavours.
For more information about Merlin, or to check out the Merlin x Kidsafe garage safety checklist, visit our Garage Safety Hub here.