A day at the playground! It can be fun, it can burn some energy and it’s a great reason to get out of the house. Your child loves playing at the playground, but you probably don’t like the scrapes and bruises that inevitably follow. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency departments in the United States treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger each year for playground-related injuries1.
Here are some tips on how to prevent injuries at the playground.
Playground Design and Equipment
One of the main concerns when it comes to preventing injuries on the playground can be addressed by examining the design of the playground. A quick look should give you a good idea for what age group the equipment is designed. It is important that you make sure your kids are playing on age-appropriate equipment — playing on equipment that is too big can lead to injuries. Additionally, bigger kids using play structures designed for small children is an issue because the big kids could accidentally hurt one of the smaller ones.
Even when your kids are playing on age-appropriate equipment, many injuries occur when a child falls or is struck by moving equipment. The main culprits are typically slides, swings or seesaws, so take a look at what kind of equipment the playground has and let your kids know how careful they should be while playing.
Take a quick inventory of the general level of maintenance of the equipment. If there are broken swings, ladders or splintered wood, your kids will be more susceptible to injuries. In addition, look for trash. Broken bottles or aluminum can tops can cause injuries. If the playground hasn’t been maintained properly, you may want to skip that playground altogether.
Attempts to climb on vertical bars — rather than horizontal bars — present a hazard, too. You should also make sure the surface on, under and around the equipment is both deep and adequately cushioned. A good playground surface can limit injuries from falls. The presence of protective barriers and guardrails can help limit falls as well. Furthermore, check the height of equipment. A lower maximum fall height can mean fewer injuries.
While you can’t control all aspects of a playground, you can teach your kids the
proper way to behave — which in turn can prevent injuries. A few examples: no running, pushing, shoving or fighting while near or on equipment. Let your kids know the importance of proper positioning and proper equipment use, which also can help keep them safer.
Another good rule is to take turns using the equipment. This will limit mishaps that may come about due to equipment overcrowding. Additionally, slides are not meant for climbing — stick to ladders when you feel the urge to climb. Many playground injuries are direct results of falls that occur while someone is climbing a slide. Lastly, never walk directly in front of swings. No one wants to get kicked in the face!
Never underestimate the impact and importance of adult supervision at the playground. Along with making the rules, you need to be sure the rules are followed. Your presence and watchful eye can make sure your children are using equipment appropriately, taking turns and not overcrowding. Your presence also can be crucial for a quick response in the unfortunate event of an injury.
Make sure your kids are dressed appropriately to play at the playground. Remember that drawstrings, cords and loose clothes can get stuck in equipment, in turn causing falls, choking or other injuries.
With the right combination of observation, a solid set of rules and good supervision, you can ensure that your family day at the playground is as much fun and as safe as can be. So get out there and have some fun!
About the author: David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc., is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, with its roots deep in the park and playground markets including churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase commercial playground equipment, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities. Connect with SRP on LinkedIn or Facebook.
1 Tinsworth D, McDonald J. Special Study: Injuries and Deaths Associated with Children’s Playground Equipment. Washington (DC): U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; 2001.
Image courtesy of tungphoto / freedigitalphotos.net
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