Going to the playground, whether it is in your backyard or somewhere in your community, is a great way for kids to get outdoors and play. Playgrounds can be places of healthy exercise, creative play and socialization. However, about 200,000 kids go to the ER annually because of a playground related injury according to kidshealth.org. Making a couple of safety choices now will allow the playground experience to stay fun and safe for years to come.
Choose the right playground.
If you have multiple local playgrounds to choose from, choosing the right one is important. It should have a safe surface beneath the equipment including sand/pea gravel, mulch or some sort of rubber/synthetic material. This allows children to have a softer landing when jumping or falling. Equipment should be thoroughly surrounded by this safe surface and should be spread out so there is no dangerous overlap. Make sure that the equipment in your playground is regularly maintained and age appropriate. If you do see a safety hazard in the playground, please report your findings to the organization responsible for it so that changes can be made.
Teach playground rules/etiquette
Make sure your children understand how to safely use the equipment in the playground. They will enjoy learning from you and you can make sure they know what not to do when using equipment. Also, be sure to teach the rules of how to interact with other children. No pushing or shoving should ever be permitted on the playground. Since a playground is a shared space, sharing and being kind to other kids who are using the equipment should also be encouraged. These all might seem like common sense but giving your kids a solid reminder when you go to the playground is a good idea, nonetheless.
Make sure kids are being constantly supervised at the playground. If you are sitting on a bench to watch your kids play, make sure that you have sufficient visibility of all the equipment. Even better though, especially for younger children, you can follow them a little closer. They will likely want to have you involved in their play anyways, asking you to watch them. Try to avoid spending all your time on your cellphone or being distracted by someone else. It can be easy for a situation to happen where a kid gets injured very quickly.
Keep these rules in mind if you put some playground equipment in your own home as well. You don’t want to skip out on safety due to limited space and money. If you’re going to install equipment, you want it to be safe and maintained.
Check out this downloadable tip sheet from Safekids.org