Thursday, March 17, 2011

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 Yahoo.com'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 about the possibility of old, unmaintained equipment that is especially dangerous to toddlers, requiring that parents always check for stability before children begin playing.

Sixbear also mentioned parks that have water features in addition to play facilities. Ponds and fountains, for example, pose a drowning hazard because "it only takes a second for your toddler to wander off ... while you're momentarily distracted," she wrote. "It's better to be safe. Avoid parks with water features altogether."

Fences are another safety component that can protect young children.

"No matter how vigilant you are, accidents happen," Sixbear noted. "Fences also separate you toddler from large dogs and older, more rambunctious children who might be using other areas of the park."