Tips for Ensuring Playground Safety
Playground safety is a critical concern. Though play structures look like a fun environment for kids, they can be very hazardous 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 better understand playground injuries, there is a need for more research, but as a parent, you can take a proactive approach in terms of protecting your kids. National and State Level S.A.F.E. Plans First of all, ensure that you choose a playground that is in line with the National Program for Playground Safety. S.A.F.E. is an acronym for Supervision, Age-appropriateness, Fall Surfacing and Equipment Maintenance. This plan is applied across all levels, from local to state to national.
Without a doubt, the first and most crucial playground safety requirement is adult supervision. Adults have to be observant of potential playground hazards, and be willing to “help” the children in play.
It is necessary for playground equipment to be separated based on age level (6 – 23 months, 2-5 years, and 5-12 years). Make sure your smaller kids are not geting near larger structures. The play area you choose should have a reputation for raising awareness for this particular side of safety, by providing the right labels for all the play structures in their premises.
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. A safe park will instead provide loose fill materials at least 12 inches deep as a falling surface.
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, be observant yourself and inform management as soon as you find any potential current or potential maintenance issue.
Though not a part of the S.A.F.E. Plan, weather is an equally crucial concern that you have to consider in terms of 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. You should also be updated with severe weather conditions in the forecast.
Finally, it’s good to know that a good number of playground safety issues are related to clothing-related hazards. Loose strings, for example, can put a child at risk for strangulation. Clearly, of these are realities that you as a parent should never take for granted.