HOW SAFE IS YOUR PLAYGROUND?
We tend to think of playgrounds as places that provide the perfect
opportunity for our children to develop motor and cognitive skills and also to
learn and practice the socialization skills that they are beginning to acquire.
We rarely think of playgrounds as a place where serious injury could occur. Just
how safe is your backyard or neighborhood playground?
Did you know that each year about 211,000 children in the United States aged
14 and under will receive emergency department treatment for injuries sustained
on playground equipment? Of those children, 20 youngsters die each year from
their injuries. Read on to see how parents can help to insure that their
children are playing in areas that are safely structured and adequately
How can playground injuries be prevented?
Supervise your children
Statistics show that lack of adult supervision is a
factor in 40% of playground injuries. Regardless of age, all children require
some form of adult supervision when using playground equipment. Preschool age
children require more attentive supervision than older children do. Adults need
to be on the lookout for potential hazards, oversee child to child interactions,
and be available in case of injury.
Consider the age-appropriateness of playground equipment
Because children at age 2 are developmentally
different from children at age 8, the same type of playground equipment is not
appropriate for all children. Preschool children ages 2 to 5 and school aged
children ages 5 to 12 need separate areas to play on equipment that is
appropriately designed for each group. Do not allow or encourage younger
children to try to master equipment that has not been designed for them.
Likewise, do not allow older children to overrule the youngsters and play
hazardously on equipment that has not been designed for use by older
Visually inspect the playground area
Before allowing your children to use playground equipment, perform a quick
overall visual inspection of the area. Is all equipment properly anchored into
the ground? Do you see any exposed sharp edges or corners that could harm your
children? Are nuts and bolts covered and are all S-hooks closed? Are climbing
ropes anchored at both ends? Is there anything on the ground, for example,
broken glass, rocks, litter, or large tree roots that could injure a
Check to be certain that there is adequate surfacing material under and
around the play equipment
More than 70% of playground injuries result
from a fall to the surface. Falls are responsible for the most severe playground
injuries that result in head injuries and fractures. The surface that is in
place under and around the playground equipment is a major contributing factor
in determining the degree of injury that may occur with any fall. Hard surface
materials like asphalt and concrete are not suitable for use under or around
playground equipment. Likewise, grass and turf are not recommended because of
their poor shock absorbing capabilities. Some examples of recommended surfacing
materials include: wood chips, double shredded bark mulch, fine sand, shredded
tires, engineered wood fibers and fine gravel. Usually a depth of between six
and twelve inches of surfacing material is recommended.
Remove drawstrings from hoods, necks, and children’s outerwear
Never allow children to wear anything around their
neck, including purses, necklaces or clothing while on the playground. These
items can easily get caught on protruding equipment and hardware. Strangulation
has resulted from entanglement and entrapment.
Review playground rules with your children before they begin to play
- Instruct children never to jump off of a moving swing.
- Tell children not to walk in front of or behind a
swing that is in motion.
- Require that children go up and down the slide
appropriately, no climbing up and over the sides.
- Reinforce the importance of taking turns.
- Encourage children to seek out an adult when problems arise.
Report all playground safety issues to the organization responsible for
maintaining the site
The responsibility for maintaining a safe playground environment may rest
with the homeowner, a daycare center or other school, or perhaps the local
recreation department. Develop and implement plans for inspecting and
maintaining your own equipment and inquire about plans to keep other playgrounds
safe if your children are using them. Direct your concerns to the appropriate
Courtesy Health AtoZ