Playground Safety Pointers for Parents
Playground safety is crucial. Play structures seem like a fun environment for kids, they can pose some real dangers too. In America, emergency departments take care of over 200,000 children who are brought in for playground-related injuries. Almost half of those cases are deemed “serious” by the CDC.
To gain a full understanding of playground injuries, more research is needed, but there are steps you can take as a parent to protect your kids. National and State Level S.A.F.E. Plans First and foremost, be sure to pick a playground that is aligned with the National Program for Playground Safety. S.A.F.E. means Supervision, Age-appropriateness, Fall Surfacing and Equipment Maintenance. This plan is effective on all three levels: national, state and national.
Adult supervision is the first and most crucial requirement of playground safety. Adults have to be observant of potential playground hazards, and be willing to “help” the children in play.
Playground equipment must be separated for three age levels, namely 6 – 23 months, 2-5 years, and 5-12 years. Make sure your smaller kids are not geting near larger structures. Go with a play area where administrators are concerned about people’s awareness of this specific part of safety, by putting labels on each and every play structure they have.
Grass, dirt and cement are all unsafe types of playground surfaces. These surfaces are clearly hard enough for a child to have severe injuries after a fall. Look for a park in which kids can fall on loose fill materials that are at least 12 inches deep.
Take your kids to a playground with structures that are regularly inspected for signs of deterioration, such as cracks on plastic, splinters on wood, etc. As a parent, you can do your share in keeping your child safe by being observant yourself and by immediately reporting any maintenance issues you may find.
While weather is not part of the S.A.F.E. Plan, weather conditions are just as vital to consider when you talk about playground safety. If the heat index exceeds 90 degrees, your kids can be at risk of heat-related injuries from touching hot equipment. On the other hand, when temperatures drop below -15 degrees Fahrenheit, this can be a health issue as well. Always look into these things before taking the kids out to play. Also stay in the loop in terms of looming severe weather.
Lastly, it’s important to know that a big percentage of playground safety problems have something to do with the kids wearing potentially hazardous clothing. For example, loose strings can increase their risk for strangulation. Clearly, of these are realities that you as a parent should never take for granted.