Children love to play outside in the sunshine - especially when they're surrounded by other children on a playground, and since many schools fail to offer enough free-play time outdoors - getting your children to the playground after school each day is important for their health and overall well-being. Playing at the playground gives children the opportunity to use their gross motor, problem solving, communication and social skills. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 200,00 children ages 14 and younger are treated in the emergency room due to playground-related injuries. With that in mind, read on to learn how you can reduce the risk of injury and keep your children safe at the playground.
#1: Teach the Rules
Teaching and discussing the rules of the playground with our children is an important part of parenting. Your children need to understand that simple things like climbing up the slide, rather than sliding down it, can be dangerous. It’s best to explain to children the rules of the playground and why these rules are important. They will be more willing to follow the rules if they know that it can affect their safety or the safety of others if they break them.
Believe me, I completely understand that sometimes the last thing that you want to do after a busy day of work is sit at the playground. Again, I understand how easy it can be to bring a book, your smart phone or laptop for entertainment. However, it’s very important to really supervise what’s happening on the playground. Our eyes can help to prevent accidents and reduce the risk of injury to our children as well as other children. And, if your child is learning a new skill, it’s super important that a parent be nearby in case the child needs your assistance.
#3: Check it Out
When you first arrive at the playground, give the playground a “once over to look for loose bars, bolts, ropes, sharp edges, and broken wires or cables. The best way to prevent injuries in the first place is to make sure that the playground equipment that your children is playing on is actually safe. If you do find that the playground is in need of repair, contact the parks and recreation department and notify them immediately.
#4: Size it Up
While you’re doing your “once over” looking for any dangerous malfunctions within the playground, check for adequate landing surface underneath the equipment. There should be several inches of thick sand, wood chips, rubberized mulch or other shock-absorbing material underfoot. You’ll also want to make sure that the playground fits your child. If you have a baby or toddler and there are a lot of big kids or tweens running around, you may want to consider a park that caters to smaller children. Likewise if you have older children, you don’t want them running over a wee child.
#5: Dress for Success
The playground is not the time for flip flops or Disney princess high heels. Children need to wear proper fitting sneakers that are tied tightly – no untied shoelaces. Do not allow your children to wear any clothing that has drawstrings, cords, straps, ties or anything else that can become entangled in the playground equipment. Also, it’s a great idea to make sure that children with longer hair wear it back in a ponytail or braid.
#6 Protect Their Skin
If you were taking your child to the pool or beach for the afternoon, you would never forget the organic sunscreen. Don’t let the playground be any different. A great way to make sure that you are never left without a bottle of this skin-saving cream, is to leave a bottle of it in your car or diaper bag. Children’s skin is very fragile and even a few minutes outside in the sunshine can have lifelong affects on their skin and their overall health.
#7 Protect their Bodies
Children play hard and with that in mind, make sure that they have the proper fuel to keep their bodies running properly. After playing tag, swinging on the monkey bars or sliding down the slide for a few minutes, your child will undoubtedly be beet red, hot and thirsty. Remembering to bring their water bottle full of fresh cold water is imperative to their health. You may also want to pack a high-energy snack or two if you plan on being at the playground for an extended period of time.