Whether it’s in your backyard or down the street at the local park, playground safety is crucial. According to National Program for Playground Safety’s website, of the 218,851 preschool and elementary school children who were injured on playground equipment, 51% of the injuries occurred on a public playground whereas 19% occurred on a playground at home. All between the years of 2001 through 2008. Don’t let your child become a part of the statistics. Check out our tips below for how you can help keep your children safe on the playground.
With 67% of the injuries reported being caused by falling or equipment failure, the first step is to check out the playground equipment before letting your kid play on it. Check out the guardrails and any other protective barriers for sturdiness. Ensure there is enough space between each swing. If your child has longer hair, consider pulling it up so as not to get caught in the swing set or any other chains on the playground. The same goes for clothing with drawstrings like hoodies. If you notice splitting in the wood or rust on metal equipment, re-consider letting them play on the structure.
Look for playgrounds with soft surfaces like grass and soil as opposed to concrete or asphalt. If a child were to fall, softer surfaces will help soften the impact of a fall. Also be on the lookout for rocks, stumps and other items that could increase a child’s risk of tripping.
It’s vital that children understand the importance of safety on the playground. Before you even go to the playground or let them out in the background to play, discuss with them the consequences of not being safe. Walk through each part of the playground with them to show exactly what you are looking for in a safe playground. Explain what to do and what not to do and show them how to properly use the equipment. For example, not getting too close to moving parts like see-saws or swings when they are already in use.
Weather conditions can play a role in playground safety. When it’s hot in the summer, metal parts can become dangerously hot. Test the area, if it’s too hot the touch then it’s too hot for your child to play on. Contact burns can occur very quickly. If you remain outside, don’t forget the sunscreen! On the flip side, if it’s raining or had been raining previously, consider waiting until the area has dried as equipment will be slippery.
While playgrounds are a great opportunity for kids to get exercise, fresh air and socialize with other children, be sure to keep a careful eye on them at all times, even after the play area has been deemed safe.
Statistic sources from the National Program for Playground Safety website:
Data reported in O’Brien, C. (October 2009) Injuries and Investigated Deaths Associated with Playground Equipment, 2001-2008. Washington D.C : U.S. Consumer Product Safety Comission.
Data was obtained between 2001-2008 by the CPCS, National Electronic Surveillance System (NEISS). NEISS collects playground product- related data from a selected sample of more than 100 hospital emergency departments located throughout the United States. Thus, only emergency room injuries are recorded and the national statistics are estimates. All statistics have been adjusted to reflect out-of-scope cases that were reported to NEISS.