Avoiding Bumps, Bruises and Broken Bones: Priceless Playground Safety Tips
Posted on 29 August, 2017 in
If you have kids, you know how much they like to play on playgrounds. However, did you know that, in the past decade, each year 680,000 children were hospitalised due to playground injuries? These injuries come from things like falls and choking hazards, and playground accidents are the leading cause of death in children aged 1 to 9 in Australia. Playground equipment is becoming safer and safer each year, but you should still be careful.
What to Look for in a Safe Playground
There are several things you should watch for when you're choosing a playground for your children. They include the following:
- Impact-Absorbing Surfaces: It is a good idea to check for impact-absorbing surfaces like rubber mats, wood chips, fine sand or shredded rubber. These surfaces will help lessen the strength of your child's impact if they fall off or out of the equipment, and these types of surfaces are also easier to maintain. If the playground has sand, it should ideally be 10 to 12 inches deep and go a minimum of five to six feet around and under all of the playground equipment.
- Playground Equipment: Playground equipment like swing sets have a few different safety precautions. You should check that they also have impact absorbing surfaces around them, but the surface should spread around 15 to 20 feet in all directions, depending on the size of the swing set. Look for wear and tear on these items as well.
- Routine Maintenance: Your local council should perform routine maintenance on the playground equipment. The condition of the equipment and the surrounding area are good indicators of routine maintenance. If you have any concerns, you can report them immediately.
- Proper Ages for Equipment: Look around the playground and see if it has a suggested age group for its equipment. You want your child to enjoy themselves, and they can do that more safely with age appropriate playground equipment. Many playgrounds cater to multiple ages and have individual sections dedicated to them, so it shouldn't be hard for you to find the perfect one.
- Wear and Tear. Many playgrounds are up-kept by the city councils, but there can still be normal wear and tear. It is a good idea to check the playground equipment for any visible defects like rust, splinters or broken pieces. A good sign that the playground isn't receiving proper maintenance are things like deteriorating equipment and poor surface coverage.
Age Guidelines for Equipment
It is important to have your child play on age-appropriate equipment and with children their own ages, but what does that mean? Aside from looking for a posting detailing what age groups are suitable for which equipment, how do you tell? Here's how:
- Five Years Old and Under: Look for playgrounds that have smaller or shorter stepping places and equipment to crawl through. Things like platforms that are closer together and low to the ground, short slides, areas with sand, and ramps are good for your younger child. You want an area that lets them easily try and learn new things, and start to play with other children.
- Six Years Old and Up: As your child ages, things like rope ladders, taller slides, monkey bars, swing sets and tire swings will help to hold their attention longer. The play area should make your child want to play with other children in their age group, too.
A properly maintained playground is an excellent tool for your child to develop critical social skills early on in a safe environment. They will build on these skills as they get older, and the more interaction they have, the easier these social skills will come to them. It is vital that your child is safe while they're enjoying the playground, and this is why it's so important for you to inspect the play are and report any faulty or broken equipment. Bumps and bruises should not be a part of playtime at the park.
References: Image 1