According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), each year more than 200,000 people are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with playground equipment, with the majority of these injuries involving children under the age of 15 years.
Following these simple playground safety tips can help ensure your child is protected and can help prevent potentially catastrophic injuries from occurring.
Practice Active Supervision When Your Child is Using Playground Equipment
Active supervision is not hard to practice; after all, your child will likely be calling for you to watch them jump, slide, swing, or climb. Additional steps can include:
- Checking the playground for hazards, such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces.
- Teaching your child that pushing, shoving, and crowding can be dangerous, especially on playground equipment.
- Have your child dress appropriately for the playground. This means removing necklaces, scarves, clothing with drawstrings, and purses as they may pose a strangulation hazard.
- Remember that little kids and big kids play different. Try to have a separate play area for children under 5.
Use a Play Ground That is Right for Your Child’s Age
Playgrounds are made for children of all ages, but certain areas of the playground may have equipment that your child is not quite ready to tackle. Try the following:
- Ensure your child is using age appropriate equipment. For example, most children under two lack the balance for ladders or steps made of rounded bars.
- Babies who are learning to walk should play in an area that has a smooth and easy to walk on surface.
- Only use baby swings if your child has fairly good head control and can sit up with limited support (usually about 9 months old).
Check the Surface Beneath the Playground
Playgrounds use a variety of surfaces beneath equipment. Things to consider when checking the surface of a playground, consider the following:
- Avoid playgrounds that use non-impact absorbing surfaces. This includes asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt, or gravel.
- Look for recommended surface materials like: sand, pea gravel, wood chips, mulch and shredded rubber. Rubber mats, and synthetic turf.
- Surfaces should be at least 12 inches deep and extend at least six feet in all directions around stationary playground equipment.
- When using swings, make sure that the safe surface extends both in front and behind the swing. Also, the surface should stretch a distance that is twice the height of the suspending bar.
Make Sure the Playground You Use are Inspected and Maintained by Qualified Personnel
Playgrounds undergo regular inspections and any potential hazards should be addressed during those inspections. You can help in this process by:
- Double checking with your child’s school or daycare to make sure they have age-appropriate and well maintained playground equipment.
- If there are any hazards in a playground, report them. Also, do not allow children to use the equipment until the equipment has been repaired.
- Report any hazards to the organization responsible for the site, such as the school, park authority, or city council.