The playground can be your number one source of having fun outdoors with your child. It can be a great place to run around, climb, and do all sorts of fun physical things.
But the playground can also spell trouble and injuries for kids as well.
If you have a local park or playground that you would love to start taking your child to so that they can get outdoors more and do all sorts of cool things there are things that you can do to help ensure your kid’s safety.
Although most playground injuries are minor such as cuts, scrapes, and bruises, if you are not careful, your child could suffer more serious injuries as well. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are over 200,000 public playground related injuries that required emergency room treatment each year in the country.
Although not all accidents or injuries can be prevented, most of them can if you follow safety precautions.
Here are 5 important tips on how to keep your child safe at the playground.
Choose Age Appropriate Playground Equipment for Your Child
One of the most common reasons why a child gets hurt at the playground is because they are not using age appropriate equipment.
There are some playground systems that are designed for toddlers and younger children while there are other systems that are geared towards older children usually ages 5 and up. If it is a city or county park, most of the time you can find out the age guidelines for the park from the city or county who runs the park.
If you allow your younger child to use a playground system that is not designed for their age, you increase their risk of falls because it is not designed for a child of their height and weight. Older kids may be able to do things like ladder climbs and taller slides with no problem, but a younger child may not and may risk getting hurt.
This even goes for things like swings as you should always use a bucket or “baby swing” for a younger child until they are able to properly hold on control the swing.
Make Sure the Playground Has a Safe Ground Surface
Don’t allow your child to play on any area of the playground that doesn’t have the proper safe ground surface. Not a lot of people realize that the surface is actually one of the most important things that could prevent serious injuries to your child if they were to fall.
A playground should never have concrete or asphalt as the surface as these surfaces provide no cushion at all if a child was to fall. There should a soft shock-absorbing surface throughout the whole playground area.
Look for playgrounds that have a thick layer of wood mulch or wood chips, rubber mulch, pea gravel or sand.
Even if the playground looks like a lot of fun don’t risk a serious injury if your child was too fall on a non-shock absorbing surface. The only playgrounds that should have any type of hard concrete surface would one where a child’s feet never leave the ground and even then you may still want to reconsider the playground.
Be Aware of the Weather
Most parents realize that children should not be playing on playground during a lightening storm or bad weather but you may not realize that there are other weather instances that you should be aware of as well.
For example, hot metal slides or swings that are in the direct sun should be avoided on hot days to ensure your child doesn’t get burned.
You may also want to look for playgrounds that are in shadier areas to help limit the amount of exposure to the sun your child is getting as well. This may not be possible in all locations but do take this into consideration especially it the equipment is metal.
Talk To Your Child Before Heading to the Playground
Even if you have a toddler or preschooler you can still have a nice talk with them before going to the playground to let them know what to expect as well as what they may or may not be allowed to do at the playground.
Some things you should talk about with your child include things like boundary limits at the playground, taking turns with other kids, watching out for other kids on certain parts of the playground (swings, etc..) and using the equipment properly.
You can start to install these rules and guidelines when they are little and keep reinforcing them so that when they do get older and have a little more independence at the playground you won’t have to worry as much.
Supervise Your Kids at the Playground (Even Older Kids)
You may be tempted to take out your phone and start browsing or texting or maybe just head to a bench away from the playground area, but there really are so many injuries that can be prevented if you are to supervise your child while they are playing.
This doesn’t mean that you have to constantly follow them around, although with toddlers and younger children this may not be a bad thing at first, but you should have an eye on them to make sure they are using the equipment properly and they aren’t doing something they shouldn’t be.
Even older kids that are ages 6 and older still need supervision at the playground especially if you have the type of child who likes to push limits and is on the daring side. They may need to be followed around but you should have them in your vision at all time.
Keeping an eye on your child also ensures that they won’t possibly wonder off somewhere or end up in the parking lot. You can also keep an eye on other adults that may be around so that your child won’t talk to strangers or even be lured away by a stranger. These are things that no parents wants to imagine happening but they are real and you need to take precautions to prevent them from happening.
Don’t let these safety precautions scare you away from allowing your child to have fun at the park playground. The playground can easily become one of your child’s favorite places and is such a great place for outdoor fun and physical activity.
Just make sure you follow these safety tips and keep your kid safe and healthy while having fun.