Five Things Every Parent Should Know about Keeping Kids Safe on the Playground
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Be observant of the conditions of the playground.
Fact: After falls, the next leading cause of injuries on playgrounds is related to breakage, tip-over, design and assembly of equipment.
Parents should be observant, making note if an area or the equipment seems neglected or poorly maintained. Red flags include things such as missing, broken or worn out components; fatigued or deteriorated metal, wood and plastic; and vandalism or graffiti. All parts of equipment should be stable with no signs of loosening, and surfacing material should be maintained.
Supervision and proper clothing can reduce risk.
Fact: It is estimated that 40 percent of playground injuries are associated with a lack of supervision.
Young children are constantly challenging their own abilities and often are not able to recognize potential hazards. Parents and caregivers should observe children at play at all times to reduce the possibility of accidents. Special attention should also be paid to a child’s clothing, as drawstrings and jewelry can become entangled in equipment and protruding hardware, and can cause death by strangulation.
Ensure the equipment is age-appropriate.
Fact: Preschool-aged children (2 to 5) have developmental needs that differ greatly from school-aged children (5 to 12).
It is important to make sure that playground equipment is appropriate for the age of the user. Equipment not recommended for preschoolers includes free-standing arch climbers and flexible climbers, chain and cable walks, fulcrum seesaws, log rolls, track rides and vertical sliding pools.
These tips have been developed from NRPA’s “The Dirty Dozen,” a comprehensive twelve-point inspection guide for playground safety, as well as the Consumer Product Safety Commission 2010 Public Playground Safety Handbook. Adults who identify potential hazards are encouraged to notify the owner or operator of the playground so that they make take steps to eliminate them.
A free copy of “The Dirty Dozen” is available for download on the NRPA website at www.nrpa.org/playgroundsafety.
For more information on NRPA’s playground safety programming, contact Beth Wickline at [email protected] or (703) 858-2148.
Also see: Best Playgrounds in the NYC Area
A Parent's Guide to Summer in the New York City Area