For kids, playing at the playground can be one of the highlights of the day. To make sure they are safe and enjoy the visit, here are a few simple guidelines to follow. Parents or caregivers should check park and school playground equipment for safety and scan the play area for hazards. Children should play in age-appropriate areas of the playground and always be supervised. The right clothing should also be worn, along with closed-toe shoes.
The first thing a careful caregiver can do is look around and make sure the area is safe. Check that the playground equipment is well-maintained. Children's playground equipment should have no missing pieces, sharp corners or splinters on wooden surfaces. It's also a good idea to look at the surrounding area, just to make sure there are no hazards like broken glass or anything a child should not be playing with. Rocks and tree stumps may also pose tripping hazards.
The surface under play equipment for children should be pea gravel, sand, mulch, wood chips or shredded rubber. Sometimes, the ground under swings and slides is covered with a rubberized mat. The surfacing should extend at least six feet past all play equipment. According to the National Program for Playground Safety, the four things that contribute the most to a safe playground space are:
- Supervision of children
- Age-appropriate play spaces
- Cushioned surfaces
- Well-maintained equipment
See-saws should not hit the ground and should be inspected for parts that can pinch little hands. Make sure that swings have enough room in front and back and aren't too close together, and especially check to ensure that they are properly anchored. Good swing seats are made of strong but lightweight materials such as canvas, rubber or plastic. Walls or fences should always be at least six feet from the swings.
A playground slide should have features that encourage kids to sit down and slide, like a covered area at the top or guardrails over the platform. Metal slides can get very hot in the sun, and slides should ideally be located in the shade. Either way, be sure to check the surface temperature before letting your child slide.
Children need to be supervised, especially on a playground with other kids. Making sure that everyone takes a turn can prevent a pile-up on the ladder to the slide or at the merry-go-round. Also, check to make sure that any jackets with drawstrings are removed, as this is a choking hazard. For safety, play jewelry and scarves are not needed on the playground either. Clothing should be loose enough to not restrict movement, and closed-toe shoes like sneakers are best.
According to the National Safety Council, 80 percent of all playground injuries are related to falls. Surfaces that are 30 inches or higher should have guardrails, and openings between bars should be either less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches apart, to prevent children from getting their heads stuck. Supervision is especially important at the monkey bars, or overhead ladder.
Alert adult supervision is the best safety feature a playground can have. If there are any safety concerns, be sure and report them to the park district or facility that is responsible for the playground. Designing and building a playground are only the first steps. After that, maintenance and upkeep will allow the play area to continue to be a safe, enjoyable place to bring your kids.
About the Writer
This post is written by Sally is a working woman and a mother of 2 kids (currently 10 and 8), living in a suburb of Brisbane. As mom, she learn so much about providing healthier and happier lifestyle for her kids. You can find more of her articles being featured on www.mouthsofmums.com.au.
Images provided by Sally.