With school back in full swing, the playground is a favorite hotspot for school aged children needing to take a little break from a busy day. While playgrounds of various sizes can be found throughout a city and offer the perfect opportunity for a little exercise and fun, they are also the site for many preventable childhood accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year there are more than 156,000 U.S. children, under the age of 14, who are treated in ERs for injuries sustained on a public playground.
Although many playground injuries result in minor bumps and bruises, the CDC reports that an estimated 45% playground injuries are severe and may include broken bones, concussions, strangulation, and internal injuries. According to Burch Law Firm, personal injuries, such as those sustained on a playground, can occur for various reasons from negligence to product liability. Here are some ways to decrease your child’s chances of being injured on a playground this school year:
Do a Quick Inspection
Before you allow your child to play on playground equipment, it’s always a good idea to do a quick inspection of the equipment and the playground area. This is particularly important when you take your child to public playground; during the school day, there are playground supervisors who are charge of playground safety. Look for equipment that is broken, loose, or missing any pieces (such as nuts and bolts). In addition to making sure the equipment is in good condition, check the area for broken glass and other hazardous material. Teach your child to get in the habit of paying attention to playground equipment and to report any damages to an adult.
Age Appropriate Equipment
A playground is the perfect place to practice activities that work on coordination and the development of skills like climbing, swinging, and sliding. However, in order to be safe, children must play on age appropriate equipment. For instance, children under the age of 5 should have a separate playground available as playgrounds for older children have equipment that is too advanced and too dangerous. Even if your child is old enough to play on playground, he or she should be supervised closely.
While an age appropriate playground with sturdy equipment and adequate supervision will decrease the chances of an injury, accidents can still happen. If your child falls from playground equipment, the severity of his or her injury may greatly depend on the playground surface. Although asphalt and concrete were commonly seen on playgrounds of the past, and even some today, the chance of severe injuries are reduced with softer surfaces like mulch, shredded tires, or sand.
A safe playground should be constructed well and maintained with regularity. Additionally, if your child knows how to navigate a playground responsibly and safely, he or she is less likely to be injured. Always encourage your child to use handrails and use equipment the correct way. For example, although many children enjoy climbing up a slide or standing on a swing, explain to your child the dangers of using equipment incorrectly.