Playgrounds are fun, but all too often result in injuries.
From kids falling from swings and monkey bars, to little tykes flying off the merry-go-round, hazards abound.
But that’s not a reason to avoid them altogether. If a playground has good equipment with soft landing surfaces, add in a bit of adult supervision and the risk is greatly reduced.
To make sure everyone has a merry time at the playground, keep in mind a few statistics.
Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children for playground-related injuries, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Falls are the most common, accounting for more than 75 percent of all playground-related injuries, according to Jennifer Hoekstra, an injury prevention specialist.
Lack of supervision is associated with approximately 45 percent of playground-related injuries.
Check out some helpful advice from the Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention team for keeping your kiddos safe at play.
7 tips to avoid playground injuries:
1. Actively supervise children on playgrounds.
It won’t be hard—they’ll probably be calling for you to watch them climb, jump and swing.
2. Look down.
Take your kids to playgrounds with shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber, synthetic turf, sand, wood chips or mulch.
If your child falls, the landing will be more cushioned than on asphalt, gravel, concrete, grass or dirt.
For swings, make sure the surfacing extends in the back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar. (If the swing set is 10 feet high, the surfacing should extend 20 feet.)
3. Dress appropriately for the playground.
Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. Even helmets can be dangerous on a playground, so save those for bikes.
4. Make sure your kiddos are kind.
Teach children that pushing, shoving or crowding while on the playground can be dangerous.
5. Focus on the littles.
Little kids play differently than big kids, so it’s important to have a separate play area for kids younger than 5.
6. Inspect equipment.
Check playgrounds for hazards such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces such as sharp points or edges. Report hazards to the school or local office.
7. Look up.
If playground platforms (such as the top of slides) are higher than a few feet, there should be guardrails that little ones can’t slip through and fall.
All openings should also have gaps of less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches to avoid head entrapment.
That’s a good tip to make sure your swing surfacing is twice the height of your swing. That way you’ll have plenty of padding to protect kids if they fall off a swing. It’s important for kids to play because it develops social skills; that’s why it’s important to keep kids safe.