Temperatures are beginning to rise across the country, and it should come as no surprise that playground safety is a top priority. In an ideal world, playgrounds would be a safe haven, but every year at least 200,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room due to playground related accidents.
That doesn’t mean you need to avoid them! Playgrounds are a great way for kids to get fresh air, exercise, and social activity. All you have to do is follow some simple guidelines so your child can have the best time possible.
It may be a bit obvious, but the most important thing you can do is keep a close eye on your children. Adult supervision has two clear cut benefits; a) you know when your child is in danger and b) your child may behave less recklessly knowing you’re keeping a close watch. Make sure that the playground you choose has areas where adults can watch their children with little to no blind spots.
Letting your child know that you’ve got your eye on them is a great first step, but how do your children know what risks to avoid? Before you go to the playground, you’ll want to make sure that you educate your kids on basic playground safety, so they know what is and isn’t acceptable. Most playgrounds have set rules, which is a great way to start this conversation with your child. On top of teaching them how to use the playground safely, you need to let your child know the best way to interact with their peers. Make sure that they know rough-housing is unsafe, especially near equipment like jungle gyms and that shoving too hard on the swings could easily lead to an injury.
Unfortunately, not all playgrounds are created equal. While the playground might have been looked over and planned with safety in mind, it might have been some time since the last inspection. Before you set your kid loose, make sure to check all of the equipment for possible defects or wear. The last thing you want is for your child to get hurt because of broken equipment. While you’re checking out the area, make sure that the surfaces are acceptable. Any playground that has concrete or granite surfaces is not safe for a child. There are much safer surfaces that a playground can use, such as rubber padding or loose-fill materials. Still, no matter how highly-rated the surface is, if there is more than 12 feet between your child and the surface, it’s a potential hazard.
Last but not least, make sure that you wear sunscreen! Clearly you may not need a public safety management degree to teach you that, but even on a cloudy day it is easy to damage both you and your child’s skin.
So, the next time you visit a playground keep these simple steps in mind and have a great time!