playground
Kids love playgrounds, and most of us parents love the chance to let our little ones run around while we choose whether to run around and play, or to simply “relax” and watch!

Unfortunately, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for injuries sustained on playgrounds.  This number has been increasing over recent years, possibly because supervision has decreased.

Here are a few guidelines to help keep kids safe while playing:

  • Proper supervision – This is #1 for a reason!.  Children need adult supervision at parks and playgrounds.  Experts agree that many playground injuries could have been prevented with proper supervision.  While it’s okay to relax and let them run free, some level of quality supervision is still necessary   If you take your children to play, keep focus on your children.  Park time is not the time to read a novel, watch a movie, or catch up on social media.  And remember, an 8 year old does not qualify as an appropriate playground chaperone!  Check with the policies of your kids’ schools and daycares to make sure they include appropriate supervision.
  • Playground design – while most of us are not professional playground designers, we can certainly use our common sense to help us determine if a playground layout is unsafe.  A couple of things to look for:
    • proper spacing between equipment
    • proper surfaces (softer surfaces like sand, wood chips, or rubber playground flooring are the best; concrete and asphalt are not considered safe, nor are grass or loose soil)
    • proper materials – rubber swings are safer than metal or wood; rope apparatus may deteriorate over time, causing safety issues; and safety handles along slide ladders are just some examples
  • adventure playground
    Maintenance/Inspections
    – Is regular maintenance performed on the playground?  Someone should be performing regular inspections and basic maintenance as needed.  Regular users of the equipment should also do basic inspections before and during use.  Some questions to consider in this area:
    • Who owns/operates the land, facility, or equipment?
    • Have you ever noticed changes to the playground equipment?
    • Is there a contact number to report problems/issues/concerns?
  • Educate yourself and your kids on playground safety.
    • Make sure to give your kids guidelines about climbing, taking turns, rough housing, and some basic playground games (i.e., tag, hide n seek, king of the mountain).
    • Be aware of different safety issues in different environments: hot, sunny days bring different challenges than wet, rainy days.  Pay attention and know the concerns of the day.
    • Make sure you know age appropriate activities and limitations for your children.  A great example of this:
      • Children younger than age 5 may not have the upper-body strength necessary for climbing and should only be allowed to climb on age-appropriate equipment. Preschoolers should only climb 5 feet high and school-age kids should only climb 7 feet high.
      • Plan your playground adventures and be prepared.
        • Always have these items on hand:
          • Fresh water – Active, playing kids need to stay hydrated!
          • Sunblock
          • Basic first aid supplies
  • Make sure your kids are wearing playground appropriate attire, including:
    • Shoes for running and climbing, not sandals or flip flops
    • Comfortable clothing, but not baggy or too loose fitting
    • Avoid kids’ clothes with drawstrings or anything that could get caught on equipment.

Some simple planning and preparation can prevent injuries and make the playground a lot safer, and a whole lot more fun!  

Resources:

KidsHealth

Safe Kids USA