Two hundred thousand children will visit the emergency room this year from injuries suffered while playing on a playground. Around 15 or so will die from playground accidents. While many of these injuries have to do with the safety of the actual playground and how it was built, there are things parents can do to keep their kids safe while at play.
Playground Safety for Parents
- Scope out different playgrounds in your neighborhood, and check out how they score for child safety. Pick playgrounds for your children that are up to safety specs. Here is what to look for: Soft cushioning material is underneath all equipment; equipment has at least a 6 foot free zone in all areas around other obstacles such as trees, cement, or other equipment; Guardrails should be around all openings on platforms; and equipment should be maintained, with no loose bolts or protruding hardware.
- Remove hoods or drawstrings from your child’s clothing that could become caught in equipment and cause strangulation. Avoid baggy clothes.
- Always make sure children are supervised by an adult while at play.
- Have children take off all backpacks before playing so that they do not get caught on the equipment.
- Don’t let children tie jump-ropes or pet leashes around the equipment.
- Make sure children keep their shoes on. Many public playgrounds can become hang-out spots at night for drug users and teenagers. Hypodermic needles, razor blades, and open pocket knives are just some of the things that have been found on playgrounds. Keep an eye open as you walk around with your children.
- When you take your kids to the playground, help maintain it by raking wood chips or whatever soft surface it has so that it fills in areas under swings, at the bottom of slides, and other areas where the cushion tends to become bare.
Playground Safety Rules for Kids
- Always make sure that kids playing on the sea-saw are comparable in size, and remind children to regulate this among themselves, too. Remind kids that they should always remain seated, and never get off a teeter-totter suddenly without letting the other person know first.
- Teach kids not to swing on soccer goal posts. Dozens of children have been killed in recent years after being crushed by portable soccer goals that toppled over onto them. These metal goals weigh several hundred pounds and should be secured to the ground, but frequently aren’t. If you find an unsecured soccer goal, let playground maintenance know immediately.
- Make a habit of scanning all new playgrounds, and talking for a minute with your kids about potential hazard areas to be careful around.
- Teach children to always be cautious about where the swings are in the playground. Explain to them the importance of staying away from kids who are swinging. Before you visit any playground, have your child point out to you where the swings are, and drive home that point to stay clear of that general area unless you are on the swings.
- Get children in the habit of pushing resilient material (such as bark, pea gravel, or rubber chunks) underneath their swing before they get on and use it. The fall cushion material generally gets pushed out from under the swing, making a fall on that area a potentially deadly event. Do this yourself as you are swinging them, and they will tend to mimic it themselves.
- Teach children to never rough-house on the top levels of the equipment, such as the jungle gyms, slides, or platforms.
- Teach children to use the equipment properly…don’t climb on the outside of the guardrails, on top of the monkey bars, etc.
- Stay off equipment when it is wet, as the metal and plastic becomes extremely slippery and dangerous.
- Teach children to watch out for smaller kids, or bigger ones, as the case may be.
Protect your kids from playground accidents: playground safety information for parents & playground safety rules to teach your kids.