As the days get longer and kids are spending more and more time outdoors, parents need to be more vigilant about their safety. Most parents now understand about protecting kids from the sun with sunscreen, keeping them well-hydrated, and watching them vigilantly when they are around water.
However, an area that can go unnoticed is summer safety on the playground.
Outdoor playgrounds are great for kids and parents alike. They provide a much needed place for physical activity and are often a gathering place for kids to make new friends, and for their parents perhaps to do the same.
Parents shouldn’t let the family-friendly idea of a playground lull them into complacency. The truth is, playgrounds can be dangerous.
The National Program for Playground Safety has cited data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 200,000 children in elementary or preschool received ER care to deal with injuries which occurred on the playground between the years of 2001 and 2008.
Most injuries were fractures, contusions and cuts, and in those cases of minor injuries the children could be treated and released without lasting repercussions. However, during that same time period, 40 children died due to injuries sustained on a playground.
You might be tempted to stay away from the playground altogether to avoid injuries, but with a little common sense and a healthy dose of caution, parents can keep their kids safe.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offers some useful tips for parents and caregivers to practice summer safety on the playground.
1) Use age-appropriate playgrounds.
You might want to let your 3 year old play on the “big kids” playground with her older siblings, but there are playgrounds specially designed for children under five which are much safer. Look for the age restriction labels on playground equipment and adhere to their suggestions.
2) Make sure there is a shock absorbing surface.
Playgrounds should use shock-absorbing surfaces like wood chips, gravel, mulch or synthetic mats. These surfaces are much better than ones built on grass, dirt, or a similar hard surface. A fall on a shock-absorbing surface is less likely to cause a serious injury.
3) Always supervise your children.
It is tempting to catch up on email, Facebook, or even read a good book while your children are having fun on the playground, but don’t do it. Injuries can happen in an instant, so be sure that you can constantly see and hear your children.
4) Be aware of potential hazards from children’s clothes.
Neck and hoodie drawstrings should be removed, and children should not wear necklaces, purses, scarves or anything else that could get wrapped around their necks.
5) Stop the roughhousing.
Children should not be allowed to push, wrestle, or otherwise use the playground equipment inappropriately.
CHOA.org. Web. 3 June 2015. “Travel and Play Safety.”
Playgroundsafety.org. Web. 3 June 2015. “Research: Injuries.”
Reviewed June 4, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith