A well-designed playground helps children learn how to enjoy the outdoors; plus, a visit to your local park should always lead to happy memories. While a scraped knee or elbow is practically a rite of passage for children who are learning to coordinate their movements, you should be aware that playground injuries are on the rise despite increased safety standards being set for most public spaces. As a parent, you can do your part to keep kids free from injuries as they strengthen their bodies and explore their environment by asking yourself these questions when you visit a playground.
Is the Equipment Age-Appropriate and in Good Condition?Commercial playground equipment is meant to last for many years. However, time and environmental factors do take their toll, and its possible for components to come loose. Take a walk around the playground to check out the equipment for signs of potentially dangerous damage such as a wobbly rail or loose swing chain. As you do, you should also make sure that there is equipment for your child to play on that suits their age and abilities. The best playgrounds have diverse toys and equipment such as toddler areas or special access points for children with special needs.
Is There a Shock Absorbent Surface?One of the highlights of going to the park is giving your kids the chance to challenge themselves in ways that they are not able to at home. Park equipment, such as ladders and rope climbing courses, encourage kids to take their skills to new heights, literally. While you should always encourage your kids to use common sense and follow the safety rules for these areas, you also need to know that a plan is in place in case they take a fall. Check the fall zones around high playground features to make sure that they are made from shock absorbent materials such as recycled rubber mulch or synthetic turf to cushion kids from injuries.
Is There a Place to Seek Shelter?The weather conditions at an outdoor park can change in an instant, and even a sunny day can turn dangerous if a child is overcome by the heat. After you know that the equipment is safe, take a look around to make sure that you have a plan in place for a potential shelter. Gazebos, pergolas, and shades placed over the play area are all safety features that you can use if precipitation or extreme heat rolls through.
Whether you are visiting a park for the first time or the hundredth, do a quick safety check to make sure that everything is as it should be before you allow your child to play. If you do find something wrong, report it to the responsible party and warn other parents who have kids playing in the area. By being vigilant about reinforcing safety standards for playgrounds, everyone can enjoy the opportunity to play together without worrying about potential injuries.