If we look back 40 years ago then the playgrounds were scary. Everything was made of metal. During warm days, the slides were extremely hot to burn one’s skin off the thighs. Those spinning rides might get the kids flying off in the air, or hang insecurely 10 feet above the ground on the monkey bars with concrete underneath.
Thankfully, now they are not built in the same way. But according to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention –emergency departments still get more than 20,000 children aged 14 and less with playground-related traumatic brain injury every year.
Summer is coming up and children will be going to the parks more often now, you should put some time in acquainting yourself with the risks of playground equipment and strategies to prevent injuries.
What to Look for
About 80 per cent of playground injuries are caused by falls. The most frequent injuries are caused by climbers, swings, slides and overhead ladders, according to the National Program for Playground Safety.
There are certain playground hazards by US Consumer Product Safety Commission that you should consider when taking your kids the park.
• Unsafe protective surfaces: The surfaces on which kids may fall should be made out of wood chips, mulch, wood fibers, sand, pea gravel, shredded tires or rubber mats and should be at least 12 inches deep.
• Unsuitable usage zone: The protective surface nearby any playing equipment should stretch to a minimum of 6 feet in every direction.
• Lump hazards: We should be aware of hardware that can impale or cut a child such as bolts, hooks, and rungs etc., or catching strings or items of clothing. Wearing a drawstring hood at playground should be avoided.
• Hazards about entrapment of Head: There should be no openings that measure between 3 and half and 9 inches.
• Overcrowded playground: There should be a good distance between all the equipment so that children don’t get hit or hurt.
• Tripping hazards: Kids might trip over rocks or tree stumps.
• Poor supervision: Kids younger than 4 years should not play on climbing equipment or horizontal ladders.
• Activities unsuitable for specific age:young children should use the spring-loaded seesaws. Playing on adjustable seesaws with chains should be avoided as kids might get their hands crushed.
• Lack of maintenance: Soft seats should be present on the seesaws and anything made of metal should be avoided. An equipment should not split or splinter.
• Avoid sharp edges on equipment
• Platforms without guardrails should not be used.
• Not recommended equipment for public playgrounds: An example for this is monkey bars. Most of the injuries are caused by monkey bars and thus experts recommend them to be removed from all playgrounds.
After reading these guidelines if you find your playground unsafe then you should report all the problems to the owner or park district. Always keep in mind that nothing can substitute parental supervision, and especially in the case of young children.