Some of the best memories children make are on the playground. However, for many children, playgrounds can be a cause of injury. In 2010, The Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children’s saw over 700 children for playground injuries.
Slides, swing sets and other areas of play are designed to fit children of all ages. This poses a danger for young children with small bodies that easily fall through, off or can be struck by equipment. It is important to monitor children on a playground, providing an extra hand for stability and eye for danger.
According to US Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 45 percent of playground-related injuries are severe, which include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and amputations. Many of these injuries could be prevented by setting boundaries for your child and following other basic playground safety guidelines.
“Kids don’t understand the dangers of playground equipment,” says Thomas Krzmarzick, MD, medical director in the Soin Pediatric Trauma and Emergency Center at Dayton Children’s. “To them a playground is all fun and games. It is important to remind your child of the correct way to use equipment and explain the possible consequences of unsafe play.”
Here are some tips to keep your child safe at play on the playground:
General Playground Safety
- Make sure playground equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair.
- Remove hood and neck drawstrings from children’s clothing and outerwear and do not allow kids to wear helmets, necklaces, purses or scarves on the playground.
- Don’t allow your kids to engage in or play near any pushing, shoving or crowding around playground equipment.
- Keep toddlers younger than age 5 in a separate play area, fenced off from equipment designed for bigger kids.
Tips to share with children
- Only play on equipment that is the right size for them – leave the big equipment for the big kids.
- Take turns on the equipment.
- Tell a grownup if playground equipment does not look safe. Give examples including:
- A broken swing chain
- Loose or broken climbing bars
- Steps broken on a slide
- Areas without a soft surface (such as chips, mulch, mats) under equipment
- Hard spots (such as hard-packed dirt where grass has worn away, cement, asphalt) that could hurt children if they fall
- Equipment that is too high (taller than six feet)
- Equipment that doesn't have guardrails to protect children from falling
- Play gently - pushing and roughhousing on a playground can lead to falls.
- When getting off the seesaw, work with your seesaw partner to get off about the same time.
- Always swing sitting down, with one person at a time on the swing.
- Walk far away from a swing that has someone on it, remembering the person swinging may jump off.
- Wait your turn on the slide until the person in front of you has slid all the way down to the bottom and gotten off.
- Slide sitting down, feet first.
- Keep sand in the sandbox and do not throw sand.
Falls from playground equipment such as monkey bars or slides are commonly seen in the emergency room.
Take extra precautions to protect your child from playground falls using the following tips:
- Supervise young or unsteady children on monkey bars to prevent falls.
- Children should only play on monkey bars hanging right side up – climbing on top of them or hanging by their feet is extremely dangerous.
- Only allow your child to play on slides that are size and age appropriate.
- Do not allow your child to climb on equipment alone if they are unstable or reckless, as this is a common source of falls.
- Make sure the playground surfaces are protective by using energy-absorbing materials such as shredded rubber, wood chips, wood fiber, artificial turf and sand.
Although talking with your child and these tips are important, nothing can take the place of engaged adult supervision. Together, with our partners at Kohl's Cares, we can take injury out of play!
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