During the summer months, neighbourhood playgrounds become a hub of activity for younger children. After months of staying indoors, either at home or at the day care center, parents look forward to letting their little ones spend time outdoors.
Playgrounds are usually top of the list for several reasons. They are generally safe. The equipment is child-friendly, with several age-appropriate options for kids of various ages. The best part of all is the opportunity to play and socialise with other children of the same age. Research has shown that spending time in the company of other kids in the playground helps a child’s development and also allows them to acquire skills that will benefit them in the classroom and real life.
Unfortunately, it’s not without its risks. Poorly maintained landscaping and damaged equipment are just two of many factors that can injure children on playgrounds.
Here are a few things that you as a parent can do to keep your children safe on the playground.
Check The Area Out
Before your child stays playing and running around the playground, inspect the area carefully. Make sure there are no broken glass pieces, used syringes, dog mess etc lying around. If the playground is littered with used syringes and glass shards, even if they are only in a corner, consider the area unsafe and do not let your child play there. It is also a good idea to inform the other parents and file a complaint with the relevant authorities.
Also, the surface of the playground should have some type of shock absorbing material so that children do not get seriously injured if they fall off equipment or slip while running. Look for floor areas padded with child-friendly materials such as shredded rubber, sand, wood chips and mulch. You don’t really want your children playing in a playground that has asphalt and concrete for them to fall and injure themselves on. These materials are not shock absorbers and if your child falls, they could get serious injuries.
Inspect The Equipment
You should inspect all playground equipment carefully before you let your child play on any of them. With so many children using the swings, slides, bars and other equipment every single day, these are prone to wear and tear. Make sure the equipment is not broken or damaged. Check the screws and bolts. If they are loose or rusted, the equipment is unsafe for kids. Also, make sure the guard rails are securely fixed, and any climbing structure, including slide platform, should have protective railings so that kids do not fall over.
While you are inspecting the equipment, also check for tripping hazards like rocks, tree roots and loose stones. You don’t want your kids playing in a playground where there is a high risk of tripping and falling.
Opt For Playgrounds With Age-appropriate Equipment
If children use equipment that is not designed for their age and size, they are likely to get hurt. Many kids get hurt simply by playing on equipment that is meant for kids that are younger or older than them.
In many playgrounds, there is a separate area demarcated for children between two and five. So, if you have an energetic toddler, opt for this area or look for a playground that is meant for younger kids and toddlers.
Dress Your Child For Play
Attire is also important if you want to keep your child safe on the playground. Make sure your child dresses up in clothing that is comfortable yet safe. Long, loose and flowing clothes can get snagged in posts or rails, resulting in injuries that could have been easily avoided.
Another piece of clothing that may seem innocuous but can in fact be very dangerous is a scarf. The danger of choking to death with a scarf is much higher than you may think. It may get caught on a corner of some equipment while your child is running around, another child may tug on it by mistake while running or someone could it could entangled in the flurry as a pile of kids come down the slide. Any one of these incidents could choke your child. If your child needs to put on a scarf, take it off when you get to the playground. Same with necklaces.
Sandals or flip-flops to the playground are another no-no. Always make sure your child wears closed toe sports shoes to play and tie the laces tightly so that they cannot open up while your little one is playing.
Always Keep A Close Watch On Your Child
This is non-negotiable. No matter how safe the playground is, and irrespective of how many other parents are around, you are responsible for your child. You must, absolutely must, keep a close eye on your child at all times, especially toddlers and younger children. Make sure you are close at hand so that if your child gets injured, you can act promptly to establish how serious the injury is and take appropriate action as quickly as possible.
Close, constant supervision also prevents your child from wandering off and getting lost. Above all, when you are near your child, it will keep possible child predators at bay.
Yes, older children will not appreciate you hanging around them, but keep an eye out from a distance. Make sure you can cover that distance quickly if you think your child could get in a situation that is dangerous.
Do Your Part To Keep Your Child Safe At The Playground
Playgrounds are a great place for kids to learn social skills and other important life skills that will come to good stead in the future. Unfortunately, risks are everywhere, even on the playground. The best thing you can do as a parent is to be vigilant and do all that you can do to keep your child safe from harm. If, despite all precautions, your child gets injured because of faulty equipment or poor maintenance, you should exercise your legal right to child injury compensation for the pain and suffering your child has gone through.