Playgrounds can offer children a great place to get exercise and have fun, but parents need to be aware that there is a risk for injuries and know how to prevent them.
In 2012, more than 600 000 children were injured at playgrounds, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. This included about 210 000 children hurt on monkey bars or other climbing structures, more than 151 000 injured on swing sets, more than 125 000 injured on slides, more than 10 000 hurt on seesaws or teeterboards and 56 000 injured on other playground equipment.
"There are many factors to consider when thinking about a child's safety at a playground," Dr Jennifer Weiss, an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons spokeswoman, said in an AAOS news release.
"Parents and caretakers should steer clear from playgrounds with asphalt or concrete surfaces, metal or wood swing sets, or any apparatus that can trap a child's head. Before children start to play, remind them of basic playground rules, such as one person on the slide at a time, and no running in front of moving swings and teeter-totters. Make sure that you can clearly see your child on the playground at all times," Weiss said.
The AAOS offered the following playground safety tips for parents and caregivers:
- Direct children to age-appropriate playground equipment and be sure you can always clearly see your children on the playground.
- Check that there's enough space for kids to easily get off and away from slides, carousels or other equipment where others kids may be following. Don't let children crowd exit areas. Check the handgrips om climbing devices to verify they are secure, and shaped and sized for a child's grasp.
- Avoid swing seats with metal or wood seats -- they should be made with plastic or rubber. Avoid any equipment that has openings that could entrap a child's head.
- Do not go down a slide with a baby or toddler in your lap.
- Stay away from playgrounds that have concrete, asphalt, hard-packed dirt or grass. Instead, look for recommended surfaces such as shock-absorbing materials like rubber mats or loose fill such as double-shredded bark mulch, engineered wood fibers, sand, and fine or medium gravel of suitable depth.
- Be careful in the sun. Equipment exposed to direct sunlight on hot days can burn skin.
- Remove any necklaces and jewelry on children that may catch on playground equipment and cause injury. Remove drawstrings and hoods from clothing that could catch on equipment. Children should wear proper footwear, and not be barefooted.
Tell children to do the following to stay safe while having fun:
- Hold on to handrails and climb all stairs or steps slowly.
- Slide one person at a time, sitting down and facing forward.
- Move away from the slide as soon as you reach the ground.
- Be careful crossing in front of moving swings or teeter-totters.
The Nemours Foundation has more about playground safety.