As spring is upon us, we all want to spend more time outside with the children. The playground is a great place for children to get some exercise and practice some social skills, but it can lead to injury. If appropriate play and supervision is not maintained, the chance for injuries increase. Each year, over 200,000 children visit the emergency room for playground related injuries.
Here are some tips to keep the playground safe and fun:
The playground should be free of rocks, tree stumps and branches, as they pose a tripping hazard.
The playground should also be free of standing water.
Children should be sitting by themselves with two hands on the swing and not be jumping off swings.
Seesaws should be treated the same way as swings, and children should sit facing each other with feet to the side of the seesaw, not underneath.
One child at a time down the slide, sitting feet first, and no one climbing up the slide.
If hanging on any apparatus (i.e. monkey bars or jungle gym), it should be with two hands and not upside down.
Tag games should be played in a nearby field with no obstructions to run into.
If a child can’t reach an apparatus, they should not be helped to reach it. This leads to a greater chance of injury due to falling.
Inspection of the playground should look for broken equipment, rust, no splintering or cracking of wooden equipment, loose nuts and bolts. If a sandbox is present, inspect for broken glass and sharp sticks, and trash should be properly disposed of.
If a part seems broken, loose or in need of other maintenance, designate it as off-limits immediately and report the problem to the appropriate authorities.
Safe play is of high importance, as well. Having a conversation with children about appropriate playground play is vital to keeping themselves and other children safe. Here are some main points to focus on in this conversation:
Never push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, seesaws, swings and other equipment.
Use equipment the way it was designed to be used — i.e. slide feet first, don’t stand on swings.
Leave bikes, backpacks and bags away from the equipment and the play area, so that no one trips over them.
Never use playground equipment that’s wet because it may make the surfaces slippery.
Wear clothes that do not have drawstrings or cords. Drawstrings, purses and necklaces could get caught on equipment and accidentally strangle a child.
There will be issues and circumstances that will arise that have not been mentioned. It is very difficult to foresee all challenges one might experience when supervising children on a playground. That is to be expected, but keeping these best practices operational will provide the lowest chance of injury for children and help keep your playground safe and fun.
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