Friday, November 6, 2009

Clothing and Sun Exposure: Important Keys to Safe Outdoor Activities

Sensible clothing is an essential part of playground safety. Bare feet are always a no-no, as is extensive sun exposure.

Toward limiting sun exposure, the National Program for Playground Safety advises parents and child care providers to avoid scheduling outdoor activities during hours of peak sun intensity, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. standard time. “If outdoor activities during these peak times are unavoidable, encourage the use of protective clothing and sunglasses, suggest playing in shaded areas, and, of course, always use sunscreen,” the organization states on its website.

The NPPS also supplies a “Quick Tips” list:

• Monitor the daily UV Index forecasts for your area (go to or look in newspapers) and plan indoor activities on days of high sun intensity.

• Teach children how to identify and find good sources of shade.

• Keep infants and small children in the shade when outdoors.

• Plan trips to parks and places where adequate shade is available.

• Plant trees that provide maximum shade on school or child care center property.

• Purchase portable shade structures such as umbrellas, tents and tarps.

• Build permanent shade structures such as porches, picnic shelters and fabric shade canopies.

• Include shade covering in the design of playground equipment and recreational areas.

On attire, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission had this to say about helmets: “Make sure children remove their bike or other sports helmets before playing on the playground. Helmets can become entrapped in playground equipment, posing a strangulation hazard.”

Obviously school clothes and playwear are synonymous. “Dress your kids so they are able to play on the playground safely and feel comfortable in class,” wrote educator and freelance columnist Margaret Lavin on

In addition to aptly noting that pants, shirts, dresses and skirts shouldn’t be too tight or too loose, Lavin also has excellent advice on shoes: “No open-toed shoes, flip-flops or high heels. Gym shoes are ideal. Also, check the laces. Kids are often tripping over 10-foot-long, filthy, tattered shoestrings. Velcro for little ones is a wonderful option.”