Going to the playground or play park is a big part of a young child’s life. It is through play at the park that kids pick up more motor skills and make new friends. It is also where their parents regularly meet up and have playgroups. However, a trip to the playground can easily turn tragic if the playground equipment is faulty or there is a lack of parental supervision.
National Safety Council data reveals each year over 200,000 children end up in hospital emergency rooms because of playground injuries. These injuries are preventable if playground safety is observed. Here’s what parents can do to prevent playground injuries.
Check Playground Equipment
Before letting a child play in a playground, check that the playground equipment are safe for use.
Playground safety surface – Falls to the ground are very common. When inspecting a playground, parents should ensure that the playground surface is soft so that it can cushion falls effectively. Playground surface with wood chips, mulch, sand and rubber mats are ideal. Avoid taking kids to playgrounds with very hard surfaces like concrete and dirt.
Swings – Swings are fun but they can be very dangerous too because of the speed they move. New playgrounds no longer use metal or wooden seats and young children should use box swings or swings with full-bucket seats, not open swings. Swings should also be located far away from other playground equipment to prevent kids from being hit by moving swings.
Slides – A safe slide is one that is well-anchored and has firm handrails. Make sure there are no gaps between the slide and the platform. Check the surface of the slide too. Watch out for cracks or sharp bits that can cut children’s skin as they slide down.
Climbing equipment – Climbing equipment should only be used by children above four years of age. Check that steps, handrails and bars are in good conditions. If there are ropes or chains, make sure these are secured at the top and bottom.
Seesaws – Most new playgrounds now use spring-loaded seesaws. If a playground still features a traditional type seesaw, check that there is a tire under the seat to prevent it from hitting the ground.
Ensure Constant Parental Supervision
Just because Mum is somewhere around the playground doesn’t mean there is constant parental supervision. Some mums have the habit of busy chatting with other mums or doing their own things, and they forget to watch their kids in the playground. Avoid that. Watch children play and interact with others in the playground closely.
Teasing and challenging each other are also common practices among kids in the playground. Watch out if your child tries to take up a dangerous challenge. Parents need to remind children of the line between bravery and foolishness while playing in the park.
Also, be wary of leaving a child in the care of older children. Older children are still children and often lack the judgment and common sense adults generally have. So if possible, don’t leave young children alone with older children.
Playground equipment safety is crucial to prevent playground injuries in children. Check that the playground surface, swings, slides, climbing equipment and seesaws are working properly. Report any fault to the playground operator. In addition, ensure there is constant adult supervision when kids are playing in the playground.
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