There is nothing more fun for most kids than going to the playground or park! Not only is it a great way to get some sunshine and activity into your day, but it’s also a good way to bond, meet new friends , and have just plain fun! Unfortunately, without the proper procedures and guidelines, sometimes those fun trips to the playground end with injuries. Whether it be a bruise or a scratched knee, or something even more severe, like a broken arm or stitches! We wanted to suggest a few ways to not have that good playground day end in anything but smiles !
Playground Safety from Brainline, shares that 200,000 children a year are taken into the ER for a playground-related injury, and sadly, 15 of those cases end in fatalities. The most common ages that are involved in accidents are 4 and under at 49% and 10-14 at 46%. Many instances do involve faulty playground equipment, but most accidents can be prevented with constant supervision and guidance.
The benefits of letting children play outdoors are too great to stray from outdoor play and playgrounds completely. Danae Lund in Top 5 Benefits of Children Playing Outside, published in the Sanford Health News, expresses the benefits of having children play outside are vital to their growth, health, and happiness. While playing outdoors, children can better develop physically, as well as cognitively, socially, and emotionally. With the different unstructured activities that children have access to outside, including exploring, inventing, and communicating with children their age, their sensory, attention span capacity, immunity, and happiness will also improve tremendously. So, as you can see, banning outdoor play and playgrounds is simply not an option. Instead, let’s discuss what factors increase the chances of injury, and proactive steps to prevent them!
There are four main factors that contribute to the risk of playground-related injuries, including, faulty equipment, improper surfaces, reckless behavior, and lack of supervision. In "Playground Safety,” from Kids Health, Yamini Durani restates the idea that most injuries can be prevented with proper supervision. As the one supervising, you will not only be able to see unsafe behaviors early but in the worst case scenario, you will be close by to administer first aid if it is ever needed.
Most Playground equipment is designed with children’s safety in mind, but there are still certain factors that you can detect early to gauge whether this playground is safe. The most important thing to look for is what surface the playground sits on. 79% of playground accidents occur from falling, it is vital to have an absorbing landing pad. Concrete, Grass, and soil are unacceptable and dangerous. Only lose material like wood chips and sand, or a softer rubber platform will efficiently absorb your child’s fall.
Another thing to look for is any dangerous materials lying around, like broken glass or twisted metal. Foreign materials that are not meant to be there will attract curious minds, or even unintentional contact, for example, a child stepping on the glass, could cause serious harm. So give the playground and surrounding area a thorough sweep and if safe for you, place unwanted materials in a nearby trash can or find a safer playground for your kiddos.
Playgrounds will usually have a sign or sticker placed on them that suggest what age the equipment was designed for. Typically, playgrounds are split into 3 ages, under 2, 2-5, and 5-12. To add to your child’s safety, these rules, and recommendations should be respected. Before entering the play area, it is a good idea to talk to your child about the rules of the playground and what area is designed for them. For the complete list of preventions and what to look for, read Playground Safety and become a playground safety pro!
Of course, “The Talk” I’m referring to is how to play safely! Besides constant supervision, we can decrease the number of accidents by talking to our children about what that means. As I mentioned in the into, children will so often try new things and then try to outdo that thing they just did. Sometimes, it’s okay to get a little creative, but it’s very important for a child to understand what actions are off limits, for example, climbing on top of the monkey bars, which is considered the most dangerous playground equipment around. Whether it’s at home, during recess, or at the local playground, a child must always understand what behavior is acceptable to ensure their safety, and the safety of the surrounding kids. If you read, Recess and Playground Safety with your child, it will help them understand the clear expectations of playground behavior, whether it’s during recess or at the park. It offers safe activities for blacktop, grass, and equipment play and explains what unsafe behavior would look like.
So now that you know how to increase your child’s safety during a day at the park, pack some snacks, grab some water, and go have fun!