The sun is out, the days are longer, and the playground is the place to be. While playground activities can benefit a child’s psychological and physical development as well as combat issues like childhood obesity, social anxiety, and improve interactions with others, these activities are not risk-free.
Playgrounds are one of the most common places for a child to get hurt. Each year, health care centers across the United States treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Furthermore, over 20,000 of those children receive treatment for traumatic brain injuries. Other areas that require treatment may include the upper and lower arm, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers.
It’s any parent’s nightmare to see their child suffering, but that does not mean they have to avoid the playground altogether. Parents and children can still enjoy the playground while practicing caution.
Check playground equipment
Is the equipment hot? During the summertime, metal slides, handrails, and steps can become extremely hot. If it feels hot to the touch, it is not safe to play on because it can cause burns within seconds of contact.
What about rain? Is the equipment wet? Are there puddles of water sitting on some of the play areas or the ground? If so, it can be too slippery for play.
Examine the stable screw blots. Loose screws can lead to lacerations when a child’s arms scrape against them. They can also cause equipment to break or collapse.
Check ground surfaces
According to the National Safety Council, roughly 80% of playground injuries are caused by falls. These falls can be more detrimental when the surface is covered with concrete footings, rocks, tree stumps, or large holes. Look for mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials, pea gravel, sand, mulch, or wood chips.
It’s best to avoid overcrowded playgrounds and not just people. Are the structures fairly spaced apart, or do they appear crammed together? You want your child to have enough space to run and play without tripping over something or bumping into someone.
Make sure higher platforms have guardrails and bars children can hold on to when climbing.
Use playground equipment safely
When it comes to using playground equipment, teach your child how to safely use it.
For instance, show them that swings are for sitting, not standing or kneeling. Show them how to hold on tightly with both hands and how to come to a complete stop before jumping off.
Seesaws and merry-go-rounds should be approached with caution. When using, teach your children to hold on tight with both hands and keep both feet on the side.
When climbing ladders to slides and other climbing playground equipment, children should take one step at a time and hold on to the handrails.
They should not climb up the sliding board. They should always slide down feet first and sitting up. Children should never slide head-first, on their back, or stomach as it can cause serious injury to others and themselves.
Practicing safety at the playground
Avoid clothes with drawstrings, cords, purses, and necklaces. These items can get caught on equipment and cause a child to get stuck or accidentally strangle them.
Teach your children to keep a safe distance from kids on swings, seesaws, merry-go-rounds, and other devices that could cause a collision.