Playground safety is critical to the well-being of your kids. While play structures may seem like a fun environment for your little ones, they can also be very dangerous. Each year, more than 200,000 children suffer playground-related injuries. Approximately half of those injuries are considered fatal. Some of the common playground injuries include collisions, falls, entrapment, and equipment failure. Poorly maintained and unsafe playground equipment can even lead to death. Whether you run a public or private playground, you need to do everything possible to ensure that play areas are 100% safe.
So, what can you do to make your kids’ playground safer? As the sole owner and manager of your kids’ playground, it is your responsibility to ensure they are safe. Maintaining protective surfacing, watching out for drawstrings, stress supervision, maintaining your equipment, and insisting on safe clothing are some of the precautionary measures you need to implement. You should also check the equipment temperature, and make water playgrounds slip-free.
This post discusses some of the essential things you need to do to make your kid’s playground safer. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
1. Maintain Your Protective Surfacing
Did you know that approximately 80% of all playground injuries happen due to falls to the surfacing material? It means that many of these accidents can be prevented through proper maintenance of the playground surfacing material.
If your playground is covered by a loose-fill surface such as pea gravel, you need to ensure the minimum depth is maintained at 12 inches or 300mm. The surfacing material must be checked regularly and replenished or redistributed in all high use areas such as sliding poles, at the end of slides, and under swings.
Apart from the loose-fill material, install wear mats in frequently used areas to ensure you have sufficient surfacing material all the time.
If your playground is covered by unitary surfacing material such as poured-in-place rubber, make sure you keep the surface clean all the time to get rid of contaminants. Dirt and debris can have a significant impact on their resilience and negatively affect the manufacturer’s warranty.
2. Supervise Kids Using Playground Equipment
Never allow your little ones to use the playground equipment on their own-whether at home or in the park. Always keep in mind that children are curious and may want to try risky things on their own. However, if you are there watching them play, they won’t have a chance of trying to engage in dangerous activities.
In this case, supervision is much more than just sitting down and watching your little ones play. It requires you to join in their play and encourage them to overcome the challenges they may come across. Cheer them as they jump, swing, and climb.
You should also ensure they are dressed properly for the playground. Ask them to remove purses, necklaces, scarves, or clothing with drawstrings that can be caught on equipment and pose a significant strangulation risk.
Separate young kids from their older counterparts and pay close attention to what they do at the playground. You should also teach them that crowding, shoving, and pushing while on the playground can be quite dangerous.
3. Check the Playground Equipment Regularly and Keep It Well-Maintained
Playground equipment that is not well maintained can be quite dangerous and hazardous. Playground experts say that routine maintenance of equipment is essential. Keep a routine maintenance checklist based on the guidelines of professionals and the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Some of the things you need to check for include inspecting for openings where a child’s body or head may get stuck and replenishing playground surface material. You should also ensure there are no openings at the top of slides where strings can easily get caught, resulting in strangulation.
Other good routine maintenance practices include checking to ensure that the equipment has not rusted and that there are no missing or damaged parts. For instance, if bolts and screws meant to keep your playground equipment grounded are loose, the safety of your kids becomes jeopardized. kkkk
4. Get a Certified Safety Playground Inspection
Certified playground inspection goes beyond your routine checkups and inspection. Since you are not an expert, there are a few things you might not catch. Therefore, it is always good to let an expert come in once in a while and conduct a certified playground inspection.
You may think that professional playground inspection is just another expense that you can avoid, but that is far from the truth. In fact, a professional inspection is critical because it can prevent major financial consequences in the future.
A certified inspector will check every piece of equipment and provide you with a detailed report of all improvements you need to make. Don’t ignore the recommendations no matter how minor they may seem to you because big problems always start as small issues.
Use the report to improve areas that need improvement to make the playground safe. Consider having a certified safety playground inspection at least once a year.
5. Maintain Proper Spacing between Play Structures
Proper spacing is one of the critical keys to ensuring playground safety. If you have installed protective borders or guard rails around your playground equipment, it is good to ensure adequate space between the playground structure and the bordering or rail guard.
You should also aim for at least three feet of space between play structures. Having too many playground structures overcrowded into a relatively smaller space is not a good idea at all.
Your primary objective should be to create a clear space between different structures that allows for a clean impact on the playground surfacing below.
6. Watch out for Drawstrings
Entanglements are among the top playground hazards in the world. They can occur on slides, sliding poles, and swing top rails. The drawstrings can be from clothes your kids are wearing or foreign objects such as skipping ropes, dog leashes, bungee cords, lanyards that got caught in, or accidentally tied on playground equipment and scarves.
Always check your kids’ dressing code before they step out to go to the playground. Ensure that the clothes they are wearing have no loose belts, mitten strings, straps, drawstrings, or scarves that could easily get caught on play equipment.
If they are old enough, speak to them about the potential safety risk, they are exposing themselves to and request them to change. You should also get rid of any strings from your kids’ hoodless, jackets, and other apparel items.
7. Check Equipment Temperature
As the weather warms up, some metallic playground equipment can start sweltering and, in some cases, cause severe burns. Metallic slides and swing sets still exist in many playgrounds, and there is a possibility that is what you have in your backyard.
If such slides and swing sets are not protected from the hot sun by some form of shade, the metallic areas can become insanely hot.
As a caregiver or parent, it is your responsibility to check for hot surfaces before allowing your kids to play on the equipment.
Furthermore, playground surfaces that are not adequately covered by shade can become hot. Some surfaces such as sand and pea gravel can absorb and retain hit for longer periods making them hotter.
Exposed concrete and asphalt around the playground can also become hot and cause severe skin burn.
Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by installing tiles or poured-in-rubber. Keep in mind that burns don’t only happen in scorching weather. Some people have reported cases of burns that happened in relatively warm weather.
Therefore, the only way you can be sure that your kids are safe is by checking the playground equipment’s temperature before you allow your kids to play on them.
8. Teach Your Children How to Stay Safe
Everything at the playground may be in good condition, but you will still encounter problems if your children don’t know how to play safe. Take time to explain to them how to play safe and why it is important.
Teach them to avoid things such as garbage, doing scary things at the playground, or playing on damaged equipment.
It is also critical to teach them about stranger danger. Explain to them why it is dangerous talking to strangers and what to do if they feel frightened at the playground. They should always find the playground supervisor and inform them of the situation.
Playgrounds offer kids an incredible platform to develop different life skills, have fun, make new friends, and exercise. It is a great way to keep your little ones engaged and happy. However, it is important to ensure that they are safe while playing.
You can make your playground safe and entertaining for your loved ones by following the simple tips outlined in this post. Teach your kids how to play safely and watch them do their thing.
Has your child ever experienced a playground injury? What was the cause, and how did you react? Let us know in the comments section below.