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Radford advises how to keep playground fun safe

14 September 2010

Playgrounds are where children meet to have fun, get some fresh air and exercise and socialise among swings, slides and other apparatus.

At least this is the happy image we all want for our children - unfortunately though, it is inevitable that playgrounds are where accidents do occur. Some are minor cuts and bruises that go along with playing and learning, however some playgrounds can be of some concern with regards to safety hazards that can potentially lead to serious injury.

Many accidents could be prevented by common sense, proper adult supervision and safety guarding equipment.  Defective equipment, unacceptable surfaces and careless behavior are safety hazards of many playgrounds.  Most of these playground safety hazards could have been prevented with the proper supervision and appropriate safety precautions.

We can all make the playground a place of fun and that is safe for our children by simply checking equipment for hazards and keeping to some simple common sense guidelines. 

Parents and carers can play a role in playground accident prevention by taking a few easy precautions.  Foremost, ensure when your child has proper adult supervision.  This will help prevent injuries by monitoring proper playground behaviour, checking and ensuring playground equipment is safe for fun and is the right equipment for the age of the child and that the surface is appropriate - not uneven where trips and falls are likely.  Should an unfortunate accident occur, an adult can help the child by giving first aid if necessary.

Accidents are often caused in the playground when young children are permitted to play on equipment they are not ready to play on.  Generally, monkey bars, climbing gyms or frames, long slides and the bigger swings are intended for older children and not youngsters. Vice versa, keeping older children off playground equipment deemed too young for their age group is important for their safety – some equipment may not hold their weight. 

Appropriate dress code for the playground will also help in the prevention of accidents.  Dress children for play, avoid ties and hoody tops or jackets which easily get caught in equipment, and could cause strangulation.   The appropriate footwear should be worn on playgrounds.  Flip-flops, sandals and open summery shoes can easily get stuck in equipment and due to their lack of grip, a slip or fall is more likely.

Avoid children being allowed to play on equipment that does not have safety cushioning, which is reinforced with a shock absorbing surface, should a fall occur. Surfaces to play on are gravel, mulch, sand, or safety cushion mats. Children should not be allowed to swing, slide or climb over a concrete surface.  Ground and wall cushioning are used in schools, playgrounds and sports areas where the surface has dramatically reduced the risk of injury from trips, falls and collisions.

Paernts and carers should carry out inspections of all playground equipment to ensure it is in good working order. Look for areas which are worn out or rusty and check the temperature of slides and metal surfaces during the summer months – metal slides and equipment can get very hot and cause unpleasant burns, especially to hands.

Finally, educate your child to play safe and by teaching them the rules of the playground will keep them safer and less prone to accidents.

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