Playgrounds are a staple of childhood. They are places where you can run, climb, swing, and play until it is time to go home. An essential part of childhood is the ability to play. Children need play in order to develop socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually. Moreover, there just isn’t a better place than on a playground. That is why playground safety is so important.
Playground safety should be paramount because it can also be a dangerous place, as nearly 200,000 children are injured on America’s playgrounds every year, according to The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS).
The NPPS was created in 1995, to serve as a resource for communities to help them examine and improve the critical issues related to playground safety.
Do’s Of Playground Safety:
Do Supervise! The lack of supervision accounts for nearly 45% of playground-related injuries. We have all had our kids at the playground when we start to talk with other parents leaving our children unsupervised as they go off and play. I know, as a stay-at-home-mom how starved I was for a little adult conversation, however playground safety should be your top priority.
While your children are on the playground, it is vital that you take an active supervisory role to promote playground safety. You should always be moving around so you will be able to anticipate and see potential hazards.
Playground safety should involve a check of your children’s clothing. Remove any drawstrings, jewelry, and scarves. Make sure they are wearing appropriate shoes. Flip flops, sandals or other open-toed shoes will not provide the stability they need to stay safe.Do have a first aid kit nearby.
Do Look For Age-Appropriate Equipment!
Children have varying development levels and skills based on their age and their size. Chances are if you have to lift or help a child get on to a piece of playground equipment; it is probably not age-appropriate.
Children of all ages love to climb, and they will find anything to climb on, climb over, or climb under. To ensure playground safety, make sure that the playground has appropriate equipment for younger children and older children. For school age children, no equipment should be higher than 8 feet.
Do Check the Equipment! For playground safety, check that any wood is free from splinters, large cracks or serious deterioration. Metal should not be rusted and should be shaded. Plastic should be cracks and splinter free. Any climbing ropes should be secured on both ends, and check for any missing parts on handrails, guard rails, and steps. Look for broken equipment, sharp points, missing pieces, and loose bolts. Take the Playground-Safety-Checklist with you.
Swings and slides are a favorite playground activity. For playground safety, the Swings should be made of plastic or rubber, chains should be rust-free, and S-hooks need to be completely closed to prevent pinched fingers and strangulation hazards. Slides should be free of standing water and debris.
Do Look at Fall Surfacing!
This is especially important for playground safety because nearly 70-75% of injuries are the result of falls. Children will climb, and children will fall. I think it is written into their DNA. To ensure playground safety, the surface under the equipment should be a non-impact, loose fill, and absorbing such as wood fiber, rubber mulch, sand or pea gravel. Asphalt, dirt, concrete, and grass are not acceptable fall surfaces. The loose fill should be at least 12 inches deep and it should extend out 6 feet on all sides of the stationary equipment. The fall surface for swings equals two times the height of the swing beam in front and back.
Few Don’ts of Playground Safety:
Don’t allow your children to go down a slide head first. They should always go down feet first. Only one child may slide down at one time and make sure that there is no one standing at the bottom that you could knock over.
Don’t let your children swing standing up or kneeling. They should be sitting down while holding both chains. Only one person on the swing, and stay a safe distance away from children on the swings to avoid being accidentally knocked down.
Don’t wear a bike helmet, loose jewelry, scarves, clothing with drawstrings, or open-toed shoes.
Don’t let your children run off and play without your supervision.
Don’t let your children play on a playground that has dangerous trash, inadequate fall surfaces, deteriorated equipment or other hazards.
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