Playground Safety Tips to Teach Your Kids
Each year, large numbers of kids visit hospital emergency rooms for playground-related child injuries. Learn what to look for in a well designed playground and play equipment and how to teach your kids about playing safely whether it be in a backyard playground or public playgrounds.
A well-designed playground will stimulate a child's imagination and encourage them to explore new and different ways to play. The majority of playground injuries are due to falls from playground equipment – these typically result in fractures, however they can also lead to more serous outcomes like head injuries.
With some careful planning, play environments can be both challenging and safe for children.
Inspecting the Playground Design and Equipment
1. Select age appropriate equipment. Because sizes and proportions differ, safe playground equipment should be suited to your child's age whether they're toddlers or school age children.
Designating separate play areas keeps everyone safer, while some kinds of equipment are not safe for playgrounds and would never pass Australian standards no matter how careful kids are.
2. Look for absorbent surfaces. Absorbent surfaces reduce more serious injuries and head injuries from falls. You want soft materials that will cushion an impact. Some of the best options are loose fill materials such as wood chips, mulch, pea gravel, and sand or synthetics like rubber mats which require less maintainance.
Footwear is an important safety item. Attipas soft sole baby shoes keep your baby's feet safe, supported and healthy while also providing a sound grip on the ground preventing accidents such as slips, trips and falls from occurring.
3. Ensure the playground equipment is well maintained. All play equipment should be anchored into the ground firmly and nuts and bolts should be tight and covered. Beware of rusted metals, splintering wood or any jagged edges or open hooks that could catch on kids clothing.
4. Calculate safe spacing. Allowing for plenty of clearance will reduce the risk of falls and accidents. Check that moving equipment such as swings are a safe distance and at least 1 meter apart and at least 2 metres away from any wall or fence.
5. Take special care with moving equipment. Equipment with moving parts, like seesaws and carousels, belong in separate play areas of the playground. Be vigilant around pinch points where a child's fingers can catch.
6. Clear away debris and ropes. Get rid of broken glass, twisted metal, and any swinging ropes or leashes. Put backpacks and toys off to the side where no one will trip over them.
7. Report safety concerns to the appropriate authority. Familiarise yourself with whoever is responsible for the upkeep of the playground, whether it's a local council, school or private organisation. If you see any hazards, warn others to keep away and report the issue immediately.
Teaching Your Kids to Play Safely on Playground Equipment
1. Provide careful supervision. Most injuries can be avoided through adequate supervision. By playing with your kids, you get to spend more time together, talk about safety, and be on hand to provide first aid if needed.
2. Require kids to use the equipment as intended. Even well-designed play equipment needs some cooperation from the user. Show children how to stay inside the guardrails, use the slide feet first, and sit facing each other on seesaws. Many devices are built for only one child at a time so keep it that way.
3. Point out safety features. Help children understand the importance of guardrails and protective barriers on elevated platforms and ramps. Discuss how the hood on a slide reminds you to sit down and plastic slides stay cooler than the metal slides.
4. Encourage caution when climbing. Most playground injuries are caused by falling, so climbing merits special attention. Practice falling so your kids learn to land on both feet with their knees slightly bent. Using both hands and keeping far behind the person in front of you are also important measures.
5. Rule out roughplay. Use your playground outings to demonstrate the benefits of taking turns and sharing. Discourage shoving, pushing or fighting with other children.
6. Enforce safe distances. Praise your kids for being observant of their surroundings and standing back from any playground equipment when it's in use. Make it a habit to check that there are no other kids at the bottom of the slide before descending. Pick a path that creates a wide berth between you and the swing set and beware of swinging feet.
Keeping your kids safe in playgrounds will let them enjoy the fresh air and fun with less risk of injury. Playing alongside your kids is a great way to check out their play areas, while providing adequate adult supervision, and sharing the good times in a safe environment.
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