Playgrounds are designed for younger children to run and play, enjoying the outdoors with friends and peers. However, not all playgrounds are created equally, and almost everyone has a horror story of an injury that happened to them throughout the years. Once you become a parent, playground safety and ensuring your children remain out of harm’s way while playing is more important than ever before.
Certain playground equipment pieces are rated for doom and bound to lead to injury. From metal slides to monkey bars, countless pieces can lead to anything from simple injuries to things as serious as traumatic brain injuries. You will want to examine a playground before allowing your children on the devices, looking for these often dangerous equipment items described in the following list.
1. Metal Slides
For the most part, slides can be safe with proper usage and if they fit standard regulations. However, the main issue with metal slides is that the surface will begin to heat up to dangerous levels due to the metal combined with the hot sun for long periods.
Children sliding down a metal slide without realizing this heat can get first, or even second-degree burns, which makes metal slides a thing of the past for most playgrounds.
If you frequent playgrounds with your children, you have probably noticed less and less merry-go-rounds, and the simple reason for this is because they are extremely dangerous.
These devices allow some kids to sit on the equipment while others spin them quickly in a circle, essentially flinging those who are sitting on top and often causing the children spinning on the equipment to fall. These devices have led to countless injuries, making them have strict regulations or less featured today.
3. Tetherball Poles
Tetherball is a tall pole that has a rope attached; this rope swings from the top of the pole and has a ball attached to the other end. The main reason for this equipment is to have children swat the ball around the pole, which can lead to some very fast speeds that can be hard for younger children to control.
The issues that come with these tetherball poles is that children can be hit at high speeds by the ball or the rope, causing a variety of injuries and even knocking players onto the ground.
Seesaws are still seen on many playgrounds today, but they have new regulations that help keep them safer, while still being a top contender for injuries on our list.
The classic seesaw was made from wood and could easily fly up and down, hitting children when others sat down. Unequal weight distributions on these devices can also cause children to fly off the equipment, falling to the ground and causing bumps, bruises, or even worse.
5. Jungle Gyms
The biggest issue that comes with jungle gyms is that children who are not quite ready for these devices are not monitored while on them, leading to injuries that could be prevented. For older children that are more in tune with their physical abilities, jungle gyms pose a much lesser threat and can be a great way to encourage muscle growth and exercise.
However, for younger children, these devices can be quite tall, and slips can lead to severe injury.
This may be a confusing one, but the real worry is not necessarily injuries but instead illnesses. All sandboxes can harvest bacteria and are not easily or often cleaned, but public sandboxes multiply these risks substantially.
A sandbox that is well maintained in your own yard is not necessarily a significant risk, but it is best to avoid public sandboxes due to the overwhelming number of germs.
7. Monkey Bars
Monkey bars are still a frequent sight at many playgrounds today, but once again should only be used by older children and with supervision. These bars can be a decent height from the ground and without proper upper body strength, can lead to your child crashing down.
For younger children, using monkey bars can lead to bone fractures, traumatic brain injuries, concussions, and much more.
8. Ball Pits
Often, ball pits are found in indoor play areas, but they can be just as bacteria-filled as our previously mentioned sandboxes. This equipment is once again not necessarily on the list for physical injury but instead for the possibilities of children becoming ill due to unsanitary ball pits.
This immense number of germs tied with the inability to clean the ball pits properly is why they have now become far more obsolete.
Once again, trampolines are more commonly found in inside play areas and can be a fun time for older children, but they pose a risk for younger enjoyers. You will want to look for trampolines that are protected with netting if they are not sitting near the ground.
You also should note that most doctors and pediatric organizations do not recommend trampolines, especially for younger children.
10. Still Rings
Similarly to monkey bars, these long chains with metal rings are a risk for younger children and have been identified as a safety hazard. The problem is that many children do not have the upper body strength to navigate these rings properly and end up falling, causing head trauma, or breaking bones. Some older children may be fine on this equipment, but it is best to be avoided by younger players.
Keeping Your Children Safe on Playgrounds
Even a playground that meets all regulations can be dangerous if you are not properly monitoring your children and ensuring they only use equipment that is ideal for their abilities. You will want to examine any play area that you take your children to ensure it is as safe as possible. Some things to look for are:
- Avoid playgrounds made of metal as they can lead to unwanted burns. Slides, swings, and other seats should be made from plastic or rubber.
- Pay attention to the surface areas of the playground, as concrete or asphalt playgrounds are more likely to lead to injury. Instead, look for playgrounds that have wood chips or mulch, or ideally shredded rubber as the coating.
- Look for play areas that have options for younger and older children, so that you can keep your child in areas that fit their ability range. You will want to be aware of the equipment that will challenge your child without causing them to become injured.
- Always inspect public play areas for unwanted debris, whether this is simple items like a water bottle or even super dangerous items like needles and drug paraphernalia. If an area is public, you truly do not know who has been there, and you will want to be proactive to keep your child safe.
- Monitor your child and ensure they are using playground equipment correctly. Often, you cannot control how other children or parents are in these play areas, but you can control what your own child does. Make sure that they use equipment as it is meant to be used and are always monitored.
Playgrounds can be an excellent way for your child to run off some energy and challenge themselves physically but can also lead to some serious injuries if not appropriately monitored. You will always want to look for the equipment listed above when visiting a new play area and avoid these areas, especially with younger children. You will also always want to be present with your child and ensure they are monitored while playing in these areas.