February 19, 2010, Newsletter Issue #192: Playground Safety

Tip of the Week

Before you send your child off to the playground, there are potential hazards you should be aware of. Many injuries can be prevented with a quick look around.

Surface - Since falls are the leading cause of playground related injuries, the area under and around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall. Avoid hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, or even packed dirt or grass.Also, be sure the surface extends far enough out, especially around swings, so that if your child should fall, he will land in the cushioned area. 

Entrapment - Pay attention to openings between platforms and on climbers where the distance between the rungs might be less than nine inches. Children will usually enter these openings feet first, get their body through, and entrap their head.

Protrusion & Entanglement - Inspect the playground for broken or protruding equipment that can catch on clothing or penetrate your child's body. Any ropes should be secured at both ends to prevent children from forming a loop or a noose.

Age-Appropriate - Areas for preschool age children should be separate from areas for school age children.

Maintenance - The playground should appear well-maintained. Inspect the wood, plastic, or metal for excess signs of wear. Be sure the surfacing material is replaced or replenished often enough. Rust, faded equipment, graffiti, loose or wobbly platforms all indicate a lack of preventative maintenance.

Moving Parts - Inspect all moving components (see-saws, swings, suspension bridges, etc.) for sharp edges or mechanisms that could crush or pinch a child's finger.

Supervision - Preschoolers are constantly challenging their own abilities, and they will not realize that they can't jump from the top of the slide. It is your duty as a parent to keep your child under constant supervision, no matter how adept he may seem.

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