More than 200,000 children visit the emergency room every year because of playground-related injuries, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These incidents usually occur at public parks or school playgrounds, and most often include fractures, contusions and concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.
Help your child start the school year off right by practicing these smart playground safety tips.
Look for safe surfaces
Hard concrete and ground surfaces should have at least a foot of softer material that can help absorb the impact of a fall. Look for playgrounds that use sand, shredded rubber or rubber mats, mulch or wood chips to limit injury. Be aware of exposed metal footings, rocks, tree stumps or concrete that could cause your child to trip and fall.
Provide close supervision
Stay nearby when children use playground equipment, especially little ones who may not understand their physical limitations. Stop older kids from doing tricks or improperly using the equipment. Sometimes daredevil moves can lead to serious injury. Check that schools and child care centers actively supervise kids outdoors.
Check the equipment
Avoid playgrounds with damaged, broken or outdated equipment. Structures must meet certain safety standards, including:
- Intact paint without rusting or peeling
- Lack of sharp edges and exposed nails and screws
- Even spacing between stairs and ladder rungs
- Safety railings less than 1.5 inches in diameter to accommodate small hands
- Guardrails on all platforms 30 inches or higher above the ground
Dress kids appropriately
Drawstrings, belts, straps, jump ropes and pet leashes pose a strangulation risk when they get cause on playground equipment. Avoid garments that have strings when getting your child ready for the playground. Take off bike helmets when you arrive and teach children the dangers of attaching ropes to monkey bars, swings and slides.
When you notice unsafe conditions at your local park, let somebody know. If the city fails to take steps to protect children from injury, they could face a premises liability lawsuit.