Educating our children on some basics that can be easily taught and implemented and goes a long way in protecting them.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms across the United States. About 60% percent are from falls from playground equipment.
Approximately 156,040 (75.8 percent) of the injuries occurred on equipment designed for public use, 46,930 (22.8 percent) occurred on equipment designed for home use, and 2,880 (1.4 percent) occurred on homemade equipment (primarily rope swings).
It is important to take some simple precautions to increase the overall safety of a child and further the safe play environment experience.
1) Is Equipment Safe to Use? Teach your child to make sure the equipment is safe to use. This can be easily done by pointing out and demonstrating if equipment is broken, loose, or missing parts. Inform your child not to use such equipment and to let you know.
2) Adequate Surfacing? Look at the safety surfacing and make sure there is adequate coverage. Inform your child to only play on equipment that has adequate safety surfacing under the equipment. There should be Poured-In-Place, Tiles, Mats, Pea Gravel, Wood mulch, Rubber Mulch (Shredded Tires). Surfacing that has not been maintained properly should be avoided. Example: Most of the loose material needs to be at a minimum 6” depth. If a large percentage is displaced or missing then your child should know it’s “Choose Another Activity Time”. Poured-In-Place, Tiles, Mats should not be delaminated or missing in places.
3) Weather and Heat: This is important on so many fronts. Educate! Inclement weather or possible thunder storms in the area is, “Indoor Play Time” for your child. In addition, look at those hot days. Show your child how to test the equipment to see if it is too hot to go down that slide or climb on those railings. Do this by quickly tapping the surface of the equipment with your hand. I call it the “tap”, then “tap”, “tap”, “tap”, to see if it is too hot. In other words, quickly “tap” the surface once. If the surface of the equipment passes that test and feels ok, then do the “tap”, “tap”, “tap” method increasing the length of time with each tap. If the equipment passes this test then it is most likely able to be played on.
4) Moving Objects: This is really important. Kids swinging from railings, swings, slide exit points and moving apparatuses need to be observed by children prior to entering the playground. Sometimes with the excitement of play, kids fail to take notice of this. Take the time when you approach a playground to point out what activities are going to avoid getting injured.
5) Adult Supervision: Adults need to be present on a playground. Whether at school or in the park it is essential to have adults participating in supervising play. Tell your children before beginning play, to look for adults on the playground and only play on playground equipment when adults are present.