With Memorial Day weekend now behind us, summer has unofficially started. Warmer temperatures mean that most kids will be spending more time outside playing and it logically follows that there will be more trips to the playground… but before you head out for your next trip to your favorite local park, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
While climbing up rock walls and swinging super duper high on swings can be tons of fun for kids, it only takes a second for a fun family trip to turn ugly.
According to the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), more than 200,000 children are injured on playgrounds each year and while playground safety has improved over the years (remember when slides were made of metal and playscapes resided on pavement?), there is still no national consensus on how regulate playgrounds.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has published playground guidelines, which can be found here. However, us Connecticut residents should note that Connecticut has adopted the CPSC Guidelines as voluntary for public playgrounds and thus, it is critical for parents to know what playground hazards to be on the lookout for.
So what do you need to know?
Check out the NPPS’s Summer Safety Checklist for the top ten playground concerns.
Some of the safety tips on the checklist are obvious such as being sure that your kids have proper adult supervision. In other words, put down your phone. You can comment on that Facebook status later. Parents playing on phones at the playground is a big pet peeve of mine. Unless you are taking a picture, put your smart phone back in your pocket!
Using age appropriate equipment is also on the safety checklist and seems pretty basic but if you have ever tried to tell a younger sibling or friend that she can’t run and play with the other kids on the big kid playground, then you know that this can be somewhat of a challenge. Personally, I try to always check the recommended age for playground equipment and if I do allow my younger children to play, you better bet that I am hovering around them extremely close like a momma bear and her cubs to make sure everyone stays safe. I am also good about checking the slides on sunny days to make sure that the surface is not too hot for little tushes. If you are planning to take your small child down the slide on your lap, be sure to lift his or her legs up and hold on tight. Tiny legs can get tangled up and injured pretty easily and a toddler’s fracture is no fun (I know this first hand!).
One of the more latent playground hazards which you may not think of is to make sure your child takes his or her bike helmet off before playing on equipment because the helmet can get stuck and become a strangulation hazard. Also, any ropes that are part of the playground equipment should be secured on both ends so if you see a rope that is not attached securely, you should report it to whoever is in charge of the playground’s maintenance.
As always, parents are in the best position to ensure that children are protected so glance over the recommended safety tips and have a fun safe summer with your little ones this year!