Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment offer kids fresh air, friends, and exercise.
So it’s important for parents to make sure that faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior don’t ruin the fun.
Each year more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital ERs for playground-related injuries. Falls are the most common type of playground injury, accounting for more than 75 percent of all playground-related injuries. Lack of or improper supervision is associated with 45 percent of those injuries.
•Actively supervise children on playgrounds. Adult supervision can help prevent injuries by making sure kids properly use equipment and don’t engage in unsafe behavior around it. If an injury does occur, an adult can assist the child and administer first aid right away.
•Take your kids to playgrounds with shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber, synthetic turf, sand, pea gravel, wood chips or mulch; if your child falls the landing will be more cushioned. Concrete, asphalt, and blacktop are unsafe and unacceptable. Grass, soil, and packed-earth surfaces are also unsafe because weather and wear can reduce their capacity to cushion a child’s fall.
•Check playgrounds where children play. Look for hazards such as rusted or broken equipment, and dangerous surfaces. Wooden equipment should not be cracking or splintering. Report any hazards to the school, park authority or city council.
•Teach children that pushing, shoving and crowding while on the playground can be dangerous.
•Dress appropriately for the playground. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. Even helmets can be dangerous on a playground, so save those for bikes.
•Use good judgment in the summertime. If the equipment feels hot to the touch it’s probably not safe to play on. Contact burns can occur within seconds. Use sunscreen even on cloudy days to protect against sunburn.
•Ensure that children use age-appropriate equipment. Younger children should not play on equipment designed for older kids because the equipment sizes and proportions won’t be right for small kids and this can lead to injury.
Likewise, older kids shouldn’t play on equipment designed for younger ones. Smaller equipment and spaces can cause problems for bigger kids.
For more information on playground safety and playground equipment visit www.safekids.org and kidshealth.org.