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How to Keep Kids Safe on the Playground
Playgrounds are tons of fun for children of all ages, but they can also be dangerous. Many injuries occur on playgrounds because of unsafe or poorly maintained equipment, lack of supervision, or improper use of equipment. If you carefully inspect the playground before allowing your children to play there and follow some basic safety precautions, you can greatly reduce their chances of getting injured on the playground.
Part 1 Inspecting Playground Equipment for Safety
A: Look for signs of poor maintenance. Before your children start playing on a playground, it's a good idea to look the equipment over to see if you notice anything that might suggest that it has been neglected, such as rotting wood or missing bolts. If you find anything like this, it's best to choose another playground.
a) When using swings, make sure that the S-hooks that hold the chains to the posts are completely closed.
b) Make sure there are no nails or screws protruding that could cause injuries.
c) If the equipment is made of wood, make sure that it is not splintering.
d) All equipment should be properly installed and secured to the ground.
B: Make sure platforms have railings. To prevent kids from falling, it's very important that tall platforms have proper railings around them. If you notice that these are missing, do not allow your child to play on the platforms.
Any platform that is 30 inches or more above the ground should have a railing.
The slats of the railings should be no more than 3-1/2 inches apart in order to prevent children from getting their heads stuck between them.
C：Check the slides carefully. Slides can cause serious injuries if there is any foreign debris on them, so always take a very close look at them before allowing your children to use them.
If it is warm outside, touch the slide with your hand to make sure that it is not hot enough to burn your child. This is especially important for metal slides, but plastic slides can get hot as well.
It's also a good idea to make sure that there are no other children at the bottom of the slide before you let your child slide down, especially if the slide twists so that children can not see the bottom of the slide from the top.
D: Note the placement of swings. Swing sets can also be dangerous, especially when they are placed too close to other playground equipment. Pay attention to how much space there is behind and in front of each swing, and make sure that there is adequate room so that a swinger would not hit children playing on other equipment.
To be safe, the distance between the swing and any other equipment should be at least twice the height of the swing set. There should be at least six feet of space between the swing and any wall, tree, or fence.
Swings should also be at least 24 inches apart from each other to prevent children from swinging into each other.
Part 2 Inspecting the Ground and the Surrounding Area
A: Look for soft surfaces. Serious injuries from playground falls are much less likely when there is a soft, shock-absorbing material on the ground. Try to only visit playgrounds that have surface materials like rubber, sand, or mulch. Avoid playgrounds with lots of concrete or asphalt.
While grass or dirt surfaces may seem safe, they do not absorb shock very well, so they can be almost as dangerous as a paved surface.
B: Check the ground for debris. In addition to inspecting the playground equipment, you should also pay attention to the ground in the playground area. Make sure there is nothing on the ground that could cause an injury, such as broken glass.
Standing water can also be dangerous, as it can cause kids to slip.
C: Inspect for trip hazards. When looking at the ground, you should also pay attention to anything that may cause a child to trip and fall, whether it is part of the equipment or part of the natural landscape.
Tree roots and rocks are potentially tripping hazards.
Anything that has a sudden change in elevation, including sidewalks, may also pose a danger.
D: Pay attention to the fence. If the playground is in a busy area, you should always check the fence to make sure that it is secure enough to keep children in the playground area. A faulty fence could allow children to run into traffic or other unsafe conditions.
The fence should also not be sharp or rusty, as this could cause injury to a child.
Part3 Using the Playground Safely
A: Supervise your children. The best way to prevent common playground injuries is to supervise your children while they are playing. If you keep a close eye on them, you can prevent them from doing something dangerous that could cause them to get hurt.
Intervene if you see your child leaning over a railing, climbing on equipment that is not intended to be climbed on, or doing anything else that may be unsafe.
If the playground is not designed in such a way that it is easy to supervise your children, find a new playground.
B: Make sure your children use age-appropriate equipment. Children can get injured when they try to use playground equipment that is designed for children who are much bigger or much smaller than they are. To avoid this, always explain to your children which pieces of equipment are safe for them and which are intended for other age groups.
For example, a twelve-year-old should not attempt to sit in a baby swing.
Likewise, a two-year-old should not climb a rock wall without close supervision.
C: Remove potentially dangerous clothing. There are lots of things on a playground that can snag clothing, which can lead to strangulation. To avoid this, make sure your child is not wearing any loose article of clothing or jewelry before going to the playground. Items that are worn around the neck are particularly dangerous.
Scarves, necklaces, and bicycle helmets are all potentially dangerous on the playground.
D: Talk to your kids about playground manners. It's important that kids understand the fact that injuries can happen on the playground, and that they know how to prevent them. Talk to them about how to play on the playground safely.
Make it clear that roughhousing is never acceptable on the playground, even if it is friendly.
You may also need to teach your kids to use the equipment. For example, children may not understand that standing on swings is dangerous unless you tell them so.