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Showing posts from 2011

Tips for Safe Play Indoors

Outdoor playgrounds are of course a key area of focus when it comes to safety as well as educational and entertainment value, however indoor play areas also deserve a similar level of attention.

Sometimes what appears to be the most obvious of common sense solutions -- keeping the floor clear so people won't trip -- often gets overlooked in the fray of everyday school or family life. A recent article by Daniel Akinson points out the fact that a leading cause of injuries that happen inside the house or classroom result from toys not being picked up.

"One specific danger and one that is usually ignored are all the kids’ toys that have not been picked up," the article states. "This can definitely be a hazard if the living area is doubling as a play area."

The magazine provides the following advice on how to prevent accidents that can lead to minor or at times serious injuries:

• "Designate a particular area of the room in which the kids should play" and m…

International Efforts to Build Safe Playgrounds in War Zones

It would be hard to find a rational person who would disagree with the idea that children all over the world should have safe places to play.

Organizations such as UNICEF and The Playground Builders Foundation have worked to provide children in war-torn nations with safe, accessible playgrounds.

Playground Builders, a Canadian nonprofit charity, has established a business "model [that] involves the use of a generic playground design and local construction, based on a competitive value bid system," according to the organization's website. "This simplified process ensures many playgrounds throughout conflict areas can be built effectively and efficiently. These special places provide safe spaces for laughter, hope and interaction for war-entrapped children in unstable and poverty-stricken areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories."

UNICEF's common practice is to build or rebuild schools and playgrounds in places ravaged by warfare. Par…

Thinking "Green"

Environmentally friendly playgrounds are becoming increasingly popular and prominent. As the "green" label has become a standard line in marketing throughout all kinds of business sectors, the same is evident among playground equipment manufacturers.

A few examples of more sustainable playground elements include recycled tires in safety surfacing, recycled plastic benches and playground equipment recycling programs. Another common practice in recent years has been replacing asphalt surfaces with grass and natural surroundings.

"There are plenty of new opportunities to transform decaying asphalt playgrounds or vacant lots into natural play areas," Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” wrote in a 2007 New York Times opinion article. "Researchers at the University of Illinois, exploring people’s relationship to nature, have discovered that green outdoor spaces relieve the symptoms of attention defici…

Nonprofits Build Playgrounds in Poverty and Disaster Stricken Haiti

Like warfare, severe poverty doesn't jibe with safe places for children to play together in a public setting. Nonprofits from all over the world have concentrated efforts in Haiti to address the need for playgrounds.

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake in January 2010 that killed and left homeless many thousands of people drew a great deal of international attention and aid in the wake of the disaster.

Prior to the earthquake, the Disasters Emergency Committee reports:

• More than 70 percent of Haitians were living on less than $2 a day.
• 86 percent of national capital Port au Prince residents lived in slum conditions.
• 80 percent of education in Haiti was offered in often sub-par private schools because the higher- quality state system provided an inadequate number of schools.
• Half of Port-au-Prince residents didn't have access to latrines and one-third had access to tap water.

One example is Kids Around the World, a religiously themed group that since 1994 has built nearly 150 pla…

Children's Hospitals Promoting Safe Play

Children's hospitals around the country are promoting safe play, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A report published in January titled "Injury Prevention on Playgrounds, at Home and in the Neighborhood" notes endeavors by hospitals in several states.

The foundation's Injury Free Coalition for Kids is the spearhead for raising awareness about safe play at children's hospitals and within the broader community.

"More than half of the Injury Free coalitions built playgrounds, typically with plastic or rubber materials, a soft ground covering and other features to prevent injuries," the report states. "The purpose -- and impact -- of the playground projects went beyond just providing safe places for children to play. ... By bringing neighborhood residents into the planning and construction process, the Injury Free teams were also building community."

The Comer's Children Hospital at the University of Chicago built two playgrou…

Backyard Playground Safety Issues

Safety in backyard playgrounds is obviously just as necessary as at public facilities.
"Ten years ago, a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered more deaths occurred on backyard playground equipment than on public playgrounds," recently reported. "A 2009 study from the CPSC found that 40 deaths were associated with playground equipment between 2001 to 2008, the majority of which were the result of hangings or asphyxiations."
Toward preventing such tragedies, the article highlights "location," "equipment," "surfaces" and "inspection" as the keys to a consistently safe backyard play area.
Playground placement is especially emphasized:
"Location, location, location! A home playground's location is very important. When deciding where to put a playground, consider its accessibility."
Earshot distance is a suggested gauge for determining a reasonable distance for responders -- be…

Shade Sails, Umbrellas Help UV Protection

The sunny spring and summer months have begun, making protection from ultraviolet rays a concern for those who spend time outdoors. Unfortunately, shade sails and umbrellas are often overlooked in playground designs.

Umbrellas and sails provide shade for playground patrons and also keep the intense heat of direct sunlight from benches, slides, swings and other play structures. This can of course prevent burning-hot injuries to tender young skin, but it also prolongs the life of playground equipment, which takes a beating from the sun on a daily basis.
Durable shade sails can be designed to accommodate irregularly shaped areas, and low points can be positioned relative to the sun's direction for optimal blockage.
Beyond playground applications, shade sails are a cost-effective solution for keeping direct sunlight from most outdoor areas such as pools, barbeques, house fronts and spas.
"They can be the best idea for your outdoor areas, improving the look while also offering  prote…

Toddler Playground Safety

Because of their smaller stature, toddlers face a greater number of potential hazards at the playground. A little foresight goes a long way -- parents and guardians with a sharp eye for dangerous situations will be able to prevent problems before they occur and choose the safest place for little ones to play.

The no. 1 safety concern for any play area is the surfacing. If it's hard, rough or slippery, it's time to look for another playground. Rubber is best, followed by wood chips and gravel.

Jaipi Sixbear, a writer for's Associated Content, observed that a lack of toddler scale playground equipment is often "a hidden safety issue”.

"Some toddlers may be able to handle the climb up the big slide ladder," Sixbear wrote. "What if they slip and fall from that height? While this is no problem for older kids, it could cause a serious or fatal injury for toddlers. Be sure the playground you choose has toddler scale equipment."

She also warned a…

How to Become a Certified Playground Safety Inspector

The National Recreation and Parks Association has led the way toward safer playgrounds for the last two decades. In 1993, the association established the National Playground Safety Institute and soon thereafter began offering certification programs for parks and recreation professionals.

The "CPSI Candidate Handbook" establishes a code of professional conduct for inspectors and lists the course's main objectives:

• Identify hazards on public playground equipment and the playground.

• Rank the hazards according to injury potential.

• Apply the knowledge to remove the hazards and establish a system of inspections.

The organization has "a long-term goal of training and certifying at least one person from every community in the United States to be a CPSI," according to the NRPA website. "These inspectors will share their knowledge on the public-use playground standard of care with other people involved in playground operations within their agencies and thro…

Toddler Playground Training

Early inculcation of proper playground etiquette is the first line of defense for parents with toddlers and young children. A child with a good set of playground values is indeed less likely to hurt him or herself or others.

"It is important to build safe habits in your children as soon as you begin visiting the playground," according to's Todd Bowerman. "Good habits keep your kids safe and make your trips less stressful."

The writer lists four points to teach youngsters about how to make the most of the playground experience.

First on the agenda is communication. Prior to going to the playground, toddlers should be walked through the motions of using playground equipment as well as how they should interact with other children. Emphasize that pushing and shoving are never acceptable and taking turns is the way to do it. Parents should repeat these instructions often.

Clear ground rules are also essential. Set specific boundaries pertaining to equipmen…