Every 2-1/2 minutes, a child in a United States visits an emergency room for a playground-related injury, according to playgroundsafety.org. And a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that emergency departments see more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related traumatic brain injury each year.
We all want our children to play, and we all want them to be safe. With playground season in full season, it’s important we all take steps to make sure no one ends their day at the playground with a trip to the emergency room.
Playground injuries can be decreased or avoided if we all take the time to make ourselves aware of the potential hazards. Take time to focus on the outdoor environments where our children play. If we are all active in identifying and addressing unsafe playgrounds or equipment, our children will be that much safer.
Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the risks of playground equipment and these injury prevention strategies, courtesy of Chain | Cohn | Stiles, Bakersfield’s accident and injury law firm:
Inspect Your Playground
Playgrounds require regular inspection for necessary maintenance and repairs. Help your local playground by inspecting and reporting any unsafe equipment. A few tips:
- Check the surfaces under the play structures. They should provide a cushion for where your child jumps or falls.
- Check playground equipment for hazards such as loose bolts, wood splinters, or sharp edges. Pick up any trash or animal waste that might make your playground unsafe or unsightly.
- Identify old, unsafe play equipment. Monkey bars account for many injuries, and are being removed from playgrounds.
Practice Safe Play
Most playground injuries are caused by falls, but you can also prevent injuries by making sure children are practicing safe play. Here’s how to do that:
- Dress appropriately. Do not let your children wear clothing which can get caught in the playground equipment. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings.
- Wear the right shoes. Do not let them wear boots, sandals, or flip-flops, which make their footing less secure on the playground equipment.
- Play nice. Teach your children to share, take turns on the equipment, and to get along with others. Pushing and shoving cannot be tolerated.
- Supervise. Children must always be supervised by an adult. Make sure they are playing safe and playing nice. Swings should be set far enough away from other equipment that children won’t be hit by a moving swing. Little kids can play differently than big kids.
Take further actions to bring awareness to playground safety. Here’s how:
- If you see unsafe playground equipment, report it to someone who can address the issue such as the park authority or owner.
- Help your school survey the children and parents to identify what playground equipment they like and don’t like, which equipment they feel is safe and unsafe.
- Challenge your school to an injury-free week on the playground.
- Enlist the help of your elected officials to show their support for safe environments and playgrounds for children.
- Invite a local newscaster or other local celebrity to come to a few parks or schools to talk about the importance of safe play.
- Write to your local newspaper to praise safe parks and to identify those which aren’t safe.