Tips for playground safety
With fall among us, cooler temperatures and pleasant days make a trip to the playground a nice day for families of young children. Playground injuries are one of the top causes for pediatric ER visits. I’d like to offer up some safety tips to keep a trip to the playground fun and injury free.
Adult supervision is important. Adults can help to prevent injuries by making sure kids properly use the playground equipment. Adults can also render first aid quickly if an injury does happen. Keep your eyes on young kids at all times, because they can’t always judge distances or a dangerous situation (example a toddler running behind or in front of a swing in motion). Older kids like to push their limits on playgrounds, so it’s also important for an adult to keep them in check. Adults should also check to make sure that play areas are designed to allow clear view of the kids while they are playing on the equipment.
Teach kids playground safety and responsibility. In addition to adult supervision, children must know how to be safe and act responsibly on the playground. Teach kids to never push or roughhouse on slides, seesaws, swings, or other playground equipment. Use equipment properly (slide feet first, do not kneel or stand on slides). Always make sure no other children are in the way of moving slides or when kids are jumping from equipment. Teach kids to land on both feet with knees slightly bent to avoid leg or ankle injuries. Leave backpacks or bikes out of the way from play equipment. Do not use playground equipment that is wet, as this makes the surfaces slippery. Check temperatures of equipment, especially on warmer days. If equipment feels hot to the touch, it is probably not safe to play on. Be aware of any clothing or hooded sweatshirts with drawstrings, as these can accidentally get caught on equipment. Reiterate to younger children stranger danger, and if anything seems off to alert an adult right away. Teach kids to never go with a stranger under any circumstances.
Be aware of sliding safely with a small child on your lap. Going down a slide on a parents lap can lead to a broken leg for small children. It is advisable that adults do not go down a slide with a young child or toddler on their lap, as the forward momentum of the adult can break a bone if the child’s foot gets caught. If you do go down with a toddler on your lap, use extreme caution to prevent the child’s foot from getting caught on the slides surfaces.
Inspect your playground area. A quick but thorough visual inspection of playground equipment can prevent injuries from faulty or broken equipment or other hazards on the playground. Often times, ill maintained playground areas can have trash and debris scattered about. I think now more than ever, we need to be aware of what children may innocently pick up on the playground. Be alert for any trash, broken glass, baggies or other items that may seem harmless to a child. Teach children of all ages if they see something on the ground, it is best not to just pick it up, but to let an adult in charge know.
Happy and safe playing this Fall.
Maria H. Drzaszcz, a Hammonton resident, is a registered nurse with 14 years critical care experience and is the proud mom of three young children.