Your local park or playground is a great place to take your child to get out of the house and get some fresh air together. Plus, they may even get to play with some other kids for a while. Although playgrounds and parks are designed for children, they still present some safety risks. Follow this checklist to be sure that your young child is safe next time you take them to the park.
Be sure that the park is an age appropriate environment
As a popular place for kids of all ages, the playground is a great place for your kid to learn to play while watching kids that are younger or older than them. Whether there are younger or older kids around, it’s important to always be paying attention to make sure no one gets hurt. If your child is younger than the others, bigger kids running around can easily knock your smaller child over or bump into them without realizing it. If your child is one of the older ones, pay attention to make sure that they don’t accidentally hurt any younger kids. Your child could easily run underneath another child who is swinging on the swings or monkey bars, teach them to watch where they’re going but also pay attention to prevent them from getting kicked or knocked down by mistake.
Check equipment for water or other hazards
If it has recently rained, playground equipment can become wet and slippery presenting risk for injury. Throw a towel in your car just in case you need to wipe down any equipment and always check ahead of time to make sure it isn’t wet, before your child begins to play. Playground equipment can also become hot during the summer months and can cause burns. Try to find a shady park when taking your child out to play during a hot summer day, and always check equipment ahead of time to make sure it isn’t too hot. Also check equipment for safety such as rusty metal or loose structures.
Dress your child properly
Proper attire is a must on the playground. Dressing your child in pants and sneakers that fit properly can help prevent them from tripping, falling, or skinning their knees. Closed toed shoes are recommended on the playground as they are easier for your child to run around in. If it’s hot and sunny, you may want to bring a sun hat to protect your child from sun burns.
Supervise your child at all times
Never leave your child unattended on the playground. A lack of supervision could lead to accidental injury. Many playground structures include high up jungle gyms that your child could jump or fall from. Be close by and pay attention in order to prevent any fall injuries from occurring. Playgrounds can also be a target location for child predators (unfortunately), so remain close by at all times to monitor for any strange activity from other adults.
Explain safety rules to your child
Having some safety rules set in place for your child can help keep them and other young children safe when playing at the park. Be sure to communicate these rules to your child and explain why they matter. Some examples of safety rules include:
- Remain seated when swinging on the swings, and don’t jump off the swings. Standing on and jumping from swings can easily cause an injury, teach your kids to always slow down before getting off the swing.
- Never climb up the slide. Many kids want to climb up the slides but this can present a risk for injury since they could fall down or bump into another child who is going down the slide.
- Don’t sit or stand at the bottom of a slide. Teach your child the importance of getting off the slide quickly once they go down and avoid lingering at the bottom, since they could get bumped into by another child.
- Always remain clear of other young children on the swings or monkey bars. Make sure your child doesn’t run underneath other children who are swinging or climbing on the monkey bars since they could accidentally get kicked or knocked down.
- Never jump from high up structures. Some jungle gyms have fairly high up drop offs that aren’t supposed to be jumped from, although children tend to do it anyways. These areas could present risk of injury so teach your child to never jump from high areas.
- Teach your child to always climb with two hands and to never climb on wet equipment. Falling while climbing or losing their grip is an easy way for your child to hurt themselves while climbing.
- Always play nicely. Explain the importance of taking turns and playing nicely with other children. Teach your kids that pushing and shoving is unacceptable.
Practice good hygiene and sanitation when necessary
It is important that you wash your child’s hands before and after playing on playground equipment since these are “high touch” areas that could easily spread diseases. If your child is sick you should never take them to the playground since they could easily spread their sickness to other children. Some children have weakened immune systems due to chronic illnesses. If this is the case with your child you may want to bring some sanitizing wipes with you and wipe down equipment before they play.
Pay attention to the surface beneath play equipment
Check the area beneath the play equipment to ensure that there is a soft landing area in the event of a fall such as sand, grass, mulch or rubber. Always use extra caution if you arrive at the playground and find that the swings or jungle gym are situated on a concrete or hard area. It may be wise to avoid these play areas altogether if they don’t offer a soft landing area since children can easily fall and hurt themselves on harder foundations.
Be aware of the risks
Although it can be difficult to think about, playground injuries are gravely common. Being aware of the risks that present themselves is helpful in paying attention and intervening before something happens. According to the CDC, 200,000 children under the age of 14 are treated in the Emergency Department yearly. 56% of playground-related injuries are fractions and abrasions, and the overall rate of playground-related TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) has significantly increased in recent years.
Keep your child safe on the playground by teaching them to always play by the rules and never leaving them to play unattended. Danger presents itself in all areas of life and it’s our job as parents to keep our young children safe!
The Pop N’ Go Playpen is a safe and sturdy playpen for babies and children of all ages.