Playing it Safe on the Playground

Kids swing on playgroundIt’s that time of year again, the weather is warming up and kids are itching to be outdoors. “Going to the park is a great way for families to enjoy a spring day and perfect for children to get plenty of exercise,” said Kayla Hefner, Health First Center Health Promotion Specialist. “With all the fun activities parks and playgrounds can provide, we must make sure we’re keeping our children safe from the hidden dangers.” According to Safe Kids Worldwide, falls are the most common type of playground injury, accounting for more than 75% of all playground-related injuries.

Here are four ways to help play it safe on the playground this spring:

  1. “One of the most important things we can do as parents and caregivers is to make sure we are actively supervising our kids using playground equipment,” said Kayla. “This should be fairly easy as they will probably be calling for you to watch them swing, jump and climb.” Safe Kids Worldwide notes that lack of supervision is associated with about 45% of playground-related injuries.
  2. Verify your children are using age appropriate equipment. Little kids play differently than big kids so it is important to make sure they are in separate play areas, with equipment designed for their abilities.
  3. Teach children that pushing, shoving
    or crowding while on playground equipment can be dangerous.
  4. Double check that your child is dressed appropriately for the playground. “We remember sunscreen and hats but it’s imperative to remember to remove necklaces, purses, scarves, or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught in equipment and pose a strangulation hazard,” says Kayla. “Even helmets can pose a risk, so leave those for the bikes and scooters.”

Lastly, it’s important to ensure there is safe surfacing beneath and surrounding playground equipment. Proper playground surfaces are one of the most important factors in reducing the severity of an injury from a fall. Avoid playgrounds with non-impact absorbing surfaces, such as asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt or gravel. It’s recommended for surface materials to include: sand, pea gravel, wood ships, mulch and shredded rubber. Check playground equipment in the summertime, surfaces can become uncomfortable to dangerously hot. This is especially true for shiny metal slides, handrails, and steps. Contact burns can happen within seconds, so make sure you are using good judgment. If it feels hot to the touch it is not safe to play on.

Play is a large part of kids’ physical, social, intellectual and emotional development. With active supervision and some basic safety tips, every day at the playground can be a walk in the park.

In the event of a non-life threatening accident, Catawba Valley Urgent Care – Piedmont is open seven days a week with extended office hours from 9am – 7pm, Monday through Friday and 9am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. All forms of insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare are accepted.

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