Teaching Your Child To Practice Outdoor Playground Safety
Outdoor playgrounds are wonderful places for young children to have fun and exercise at the same time. Playground facilities are designed to encourage physical activity in young children. For example, the playground ladder allows young children to hone both their gross and fine muscle skills by using their limbs to climb up the ladder and their fingers to grab onto the ladder rungs. Playground swings allow young children to improve their balance and coordination. Playground spider nets allow them to develop good spatial awareness while building muscle strength. As you can see, there are many benefits of outdoor playgrounds. However, there are many hidden dangers as well. In this article, we will examine the common causes of outdoor playground injuries and outline ways for your child to practice outdoor playground safety.
When thinking about dangerous places for young children, an outdoor playground is unlikely to come to mind. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US emergency departments treat over 200,000 children aged 14 or younger for playground injuries each year. About 10% of those children require treatment for traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions.
Common Causes of Playground Injuries
- Falling: When playing at outdoor playgrounds, children sometimes fall from playground facilities such as monkey bars, merry-go-rounds, or see-saws after losing their grip, losing their balance, or losing their footing. When they fall, not only do they strike the ground, they may also strike some hard playground equipment on the way down. Falls can lead to serious injuries like bone fractures, broken bones, dislocations, concussions, or even internal organ damage.
- Slides: Slide injuries are often caused by improper usage. Children are naturally creative. It is not uncommon for them to try down slide down a slide head-first by lying on their stomachs. This can lead to serious head injuries if the child does not catch themself in time. Slide injuries can also occur when young children go down a slide on the lap of an adult. There are many cases where a child’s leg got stuck but the adult and child could not slow their descent, causing the child’s leg to fracture.
- Poorly Maintained Facilities: Young children can also get hurt at outdoor playgrounds that do not receive proper maintenance. Stray pieces of trash, rusty or old playground equipment, and damaged fall surfaces all pose their own dangers.
Outdoor Playground Safety
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize your child’s risk of sustaining an injury at an outdoor playground. Here are some of them below.
- Supervision: One of the best ways to keep your child safe is to supervise them closely when they play. Remember to instruct them on the proper usage of the playground facilities and discourage any improper usage.
- Age-Appropriate Playground Equipment: Encourage your child to only use playground equipment appropriate for their age. Ensure that that you only take them to well-maintained outdoor playgrounds.
- Safe Playground Surfaces: Soft playground surfaces such as wood mulch, sand, or shredded tires play a big role in reducing the severity of fall injuries. It is much safer for your child to play at an outdoor playground with these surfaces than at one with hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Do note that grass, packed dirt, and turf are not considered safe playground surfaces as their ability to absorb shock can be minimized by weather conditions.