Believe it or not, the playground is a common setting for serious childhood injuries in Texas. One main reason is that those who are responsible for maintaining the premises simply don’t do as well as they should. Low standards, poor maintenance, and avoiding upgrades to save money can make for a very dangerous playground environment.
Most injuries on playgrounds occur when a child is climbing, sliding, or swinging. If a child slips while climbing, the fall can often be several feet to the ground. The following injuries are often seen on playgrounds:
- broken or fractured bones
- internal injuries
- concussions or other head injuries
Brad Parker says, “Children are often unaware of their own limitations, and they don’t have the experience to understand the risks that come with climbing or swinging too high or running too fast. That’s why adequate adult supervision is the most important part of providing children a safe play environment.”
General Safety Tips
- Check out the material under playground equipment. There should always be something to help cushion a fall, such as pea gravel, sand, wood chips, mulch, shredded rubber, rubber mats or synthetic turf.
- Check that play equipment and guardrails are sturdy and report any safety hazards to the appropriate organization.
- Watch out for tripping hazards in the play area, such as debris, rocks, and stumps.
- Check the temperature of playground equipment and other surfaces to make sure it is not too hot.
- Warn against unsafe or rowdy behaviors such as pushing, shoving, crowding, throwing rocks, and inappropriate use of equipment.
- Metal slides can get very hot from the sun and seriously burn a child’s skin. On hot, sunny days, look for playgrounds where slides are shaded.
- Make sure there are no obstacles, debris, or other children at the base of a slide. The cleared area in front of the slide should extend a distance equal to the height of the slide platform.
- There should be a platform with rails at the top for children to hold. There should also be a guardrail, hood, or other structure at the top so that the child must sit before going down the slide.
- Children should go down the slide feet first to avoid head injuries.
- Don’t go down the slide with children on your lap. Research shows children’s legs often get caught and injured while sliding down.
- There should be a soft landing material under swings that is double the length of the swing set’s height.
- Fences, walls, or other structures should be at least 6 feet away from either side of a swing.
- Make sure the cleared distance in front of and behind a swing is twice the height of the suspending bar.
- Swing sets should be securely and deeply anchored to prevent tipping.
- Swings should not be too close together. There should be at least 2 feet between swings and no more than two seat swings in the same section of the structure.
- Discourage kids from swinging on their tummies or jumping off.
- Instruct children not to run in front of swings while other children are using them.
With school out and getting into the midst of summer, playground time is inevitable. Make sure you are following these tips to prevent any injuries on the playground!