Playgrounds are the perfect place for children to explore and let their imaginations run wild. Feeling the fresh breeze as they swing or slide through the air is truly euphoric. The only thing that can ruin their fun is an unexpected bump or fall serious enough for a hospital visit.
Unfortunately, these types of trips occur more often than they should. Each year, thousands of children are admitted to the emergency room for injuries that happened on playground equipment. Preventing playground injuries is easier than you may think. Read on to find out how you can promote safer play while your children enjoy time outside.
Potential Injuries and Risks Are No Laughing Matter
Playsets have platforms that can stand as high as 5’-7’ off the ground, increasing children’s chances of incurring an injury from a fall. In fact, injuries are most common when playing on climbers, swings, and slides, and close to 70 percent of all playground injuries are related to children falling to the ground.
Children between the ages of five and twelve suffer the most injuries on the playground. The most common playground-related injuries include:
- broken bones
- bloody noses
- knocked out teeth
- black eyes
- head injuries
Quick Tips For Safer Play
Children should be playing on age-appropriate equipment
Make sure your children are playing on age-appropriate equipment. Playgrounds are generally designed for various age groups. Children ages two to five should be playing on equipment that offers lower platforms, shorter ladders, and shorter ramps. Additionally, slides that are 4’ in height are ideal for children this age.
Swings are not one-size-fits-all. There are swing options that perfectly fit the needs of children as they grow and develop. Babies with a good amount of head control and those who can sit up with support are able to use an infant (bucket-shaped) swing. Babies (usually younger than nine months), who are unable to control their head or sit with support, should be swinging in a baby swing with harness straps and full back support.
Check openings on the entire playset
Examine all openings on the equipment. To avoid your child’s head getting stuck, the spaces should be smaller than 3.5″ or larger than 9″ in length and width.
Elevated platforms or ramps should have guardrails and barriers to prevent falls.
Make sure appropriate fall surfacing is being used
Avoid playing on playground equipment that is over concrete, asphalt, blacktop, or grass. Alternatively, playground equipment should be over wood chips, rubber mulch, or sand. Rubber safety pads that are strategically placed in areas where there is a lot of landing/impact is ideal.
How You Can Play a Role In Preventing Playground Injuries
The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) has been around for over ten years and works to help communities across the United States pay closer attention to critical issues relating to playground safety. Playgrounds that promote safe play are in tune with the S.A.F.E. Factors:
- Proper supervision of children while playing on playground equipment is crucial to their safety.
- Age-appropriate playgrounds that offer safe play spaces for children big and small is ideal.
- Appropriate fall surfacing under and around playgrounds helps to lessen the impact of a bad fall.
- Proper, routine maintenance of playground equipment helps to ensure children have a safe place to play.
Any organization that has a playground on their property can take the first step to safety by utilizing a Safety Report Card, created by NPPS to ensure their outdoor play space is safe for children. The next step would be to schedule an official inspection done by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector.