Home Safety

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Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment offer kids fresh air, friends, and exercise. So it's important for parents to make sure that faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior don't ruin the fun.

 

Each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital ERs for playground-related injuries. Many of these could have been prevented with the proper supervision.

 

Make the playground entertaining and safe for your kids by checking equipment for potential hazards and following some simple safety guidelines.

 

Teaching kids how to play safely is important: If they know the rules of the playground, they're less likely to get hurt.

Teaching Kids About Playground Safety

 

Safe playground equipment and adult supervision are extremely important, but it's only half of the equation: Kids must know how to be safe and act responsibly at the playground.

 

Teach your kids to:

  • Never push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, seesaws, swings, and other equipment.
  • Use equipment properly — slide feet first, don't climb outside guardrails, no standing on swings, etc.
  • Always check to make sure no other kids are in the way if they're going to jump off equipment, and land on both feet with their knees slightly bent.
  • Leave bikes, backpacks, and bags away from the equipment and the play area so that no one trips over them.
  • Always wear a helmet while bike riding, but take it off while on playground equipment.
  • Never use playground equipment that's wet because moisture makes the surfaces slippery.
  • Check playground equipment in the summertime. It can become uncomfortably or even dangerously hot, especially metal slides, handrails, and steps. So use good judgment — if the equipment feels hot to the touch, it's probably not safe or fun to play on. Contact burns can occur within seconds.
  • Wear clothes that do not have drawstrings or cords. Drawstrings, purses, and necklaces could get caught on equipment and accidentally strangle a child.
  • Wear sunscreen when playing outside even on cloudy days to protect against sunburn.

 

Climbing Equipment Safety

 

Climbing equipment comes in many shapes and sizes — including rock climbing walls, arches, and vertical and horizontal ladders. It's generally more challenging for kids than other kinds of playground equipment.

 

Be sure your kids are aware of a safe way down in case they can't complete the climb. The highest rates of injuries on public playgrounds are associated with climbing equipment, which is dangerous if not designed or used properly. Adult supervision is especially important for younger kids.

 

Climbing equipment can be used safely if kids are taught to:

 

  • Use both hands and to stay well behind the person in front of them - beware of swinging feet.
  • When they drop from the bars, kids should be able to jump down without hitting the equipment on the way down. Remind kids to have their knees bent and land on both feet.
  • Too many kids on the equipment at one time can be dangerous. Everyone should start on the same side of the equipment and move across it in the same direction.
  • When climbing down, kids should watch for those climbing up; they should never race across or try to reach for bars that are too far ahead.

 

Children younger than age 5 may not have the upper-body strength necessary for climbing and should only be allowed to climb on age-appropriate equipment. Preschoolers should only climb 5 feet high and school-age kids should only climb 7 feet high.

 

 

Resources

 

For more information on playground safety, explore the following resources online: