About 200,000 children visit the emergency room each year in the United States due to playground-related injuries, with nearly half of those injuries considered severe.
This may leave you wondering, "Are playgrounds safe?" The answer is yes, they absolutely can be. But it takes a basic understanding of playground safety and following playground safety rules for kids to know how to use playground equipment appropriately.
How to Teach Kids Playground Safety
The earlier you start teaching your child about playground safety, the better. Before you head to the playground, go over a playground safety checklist with your little one. Remind them to take turns, watch for other children, and use the equipment the way it's supposed to be used.
Another good way to teach kids what to do at the playground is by modeling it yourself if you're able. As you play with your child, slide down a slide feet first, hold onto the railings of playground equipment, and hold the handles of a see-saw securely as you move up and down.
Playground Safety Checklist
The following playground safety checklist provides an excellent start to talking about safe play with your child.
1. Always Follow Playground Equipment Rules
First and foremost, ensure that your child is using age-appropriate equipment. If they can't reach the ground on a swing or climb steps easily, they should probably wait until they grow a bit until they use that equipment.
Also, explain the importance of using equipment the right way. For instance, hanging upside-down on the monkey bars could lead to a serious injury if the child falls. While it can be fun to experiment, it's better to stay safe.
2. Look Before Using
Teach your youngster to make a quick observation of a piece of playground equipment before using it. Check to see if there are any other children in tunnels or moving down the slide before entering. This can help avoid collisions, which can injure your child and others.
3. Be Mindful of Surroundings
Children get so excited to run around the playground that they can easily forget to watch their surroundings. Teach your kiddo always to keep their head up and eyes open as they move around the park. Walking several feet away from swings and slides instead of right in front of them is a fundamental rule to remember. Also, watch for other kids and adults when moving around.
4. Avoid Wet Equipment
It can be tempting to bring the kids to the park after a rainshower passes and the sun starts shining. But wet playground equipment can be hazardous, even if your child takes their time walking across it. If you must take a trip to the playground, bring several towels to wipe down an area, and make sure your child knows to only play on dried-off areas.
5. Wear Appropriate Clothing
Avoid dressing little ones in clothing that could catch on playground equipment or cause injuries. For a trip to the park, a pair of sweatpants is best to offer extra protection in case of falls or bumps. Look for any straps, buttons, or strings that could snag while using slides, swings, or other pieces of equipment. Ask your child to remove necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry before playing.
6. Play Games Away from Playground Equipment
Children love playing games like hopscotch, hide and seek, or tag at the park. But when they play on or near playground equipment, accidents can happen to them or other kids. Remind youngsters to play on the ground, preferably in an area of the park that's not near play equipment, and to watch for other children while they play.
Playground Safety Rules Keep Everyone Safe
The playground safety checklist above lays simple, easy-to-follow ground rules to keep your kiddo — and others — safe at the park. It's equally important for adults to be watchful of their children. Teach kids not to talk to strangers unless they're with you and to always stay in your view. With you and your youngster doing your parts, the playground can be a safe and fun place to be.