Playgrounds are fun and exciting places for children to build dexterity, strength, endurance and learn how to make friends. Kids are quite inventive and sometimes use playground equipment in many different ways which are unsafe. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, more than 156,000 children under age 14 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries occurring on public playgrounds. Many of these are preventable, or could have been less severe.
Here are some rules to remember when getting ready to play on the playground:
- Wear sunscreen so your skin won’t get burned. Remember that sun makes metal hot and a hot slide can burn your skin.
- Don’t go barefoot, wear shoes that keep your feet safe, or you could get a splinter or a cut.
- Play only on dry equipment. When it is still wet, you could slip and fall.
- Go down the slide one at a time and wait until the person in front of you is on the ground and has moved away. Always go down a slide facing forward and NEVER, EVER slide down headfirst! Move away as soon as you reach the ground.
- Climb stairs or steps slowly using the handrails. Avoid climbing or sliding on equipment support poles or beams. For your safety, don’t climb over any guardrails, they are there to protect you.
- Swing sitting down with only one person per swing, and be sure to wait until the swing stops before you get off. Also, remember to be careful when you walk in front of moving swings so you don’t get hit accidently!
- Only one person at a time should ride a spring rocker and always rock sitting down.
According to the CDC, approximately 45% of playground injuries are severe. These injuries include fractures/ dislocations, internal injuries, concussions and even amputations and strangulations! In the U.S.A. approximately 79% of equipment-related injuries are caused by falls and most are falls to the ground under the equipment, rather than falling onto the equipment. Children fall because they slip, lose their grip or balance playing on monkey bars, swings, slides, merry-go-rounds and seesaws.
Age appropriate equipment and carefully designed playground layouts, by themselves, won’t be enough to prevent all injuries that may occur. Adults must provide focused supervision, teach proper use of equipment and enforce the playground rules.
What to look for:
Check your child’s playground carefully. Three major factors can help to reduce the incidence of injury: surface, design and installation/maintenance. The number and severity of injuries can be reduced by using softer surfaces, such as wood mulch or chips, shredded tires, or sand. Hard surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete, would result in the most severe injuries and are unsuitable under any playground equipment. Soil, packed dirt, grass, and turf are not recommended for surfacing, because their ability to absorb shock can be affected greatly by weather conditions and wear. A playground should offer activities to encourage the development of perception and physical skills with areas for running, walking, climbing, dodging, swinging, sliding, throwing, catching, pulling, and pushing.