Oh! How I miss the sounds of children having fun at playgrounds. Video games have taken over. Children seem to have lost the ability to just play without holding a game controller. I recently managed to convince my grandkids to go to a public playground with me, and guess what? They had so much fun that they didn’t want to leave when it was time to go home.
Playgrounds are ideal for children to release energy, get healthy fresh air into their lungs and sun on their skins. However, you might want to give it a good once over to check safety before letting the kids loose. In fact, keeping them safe starts before they even get into the car.
Potential injuries at playgrounds
You can expect bumps, scrapes and bruises to happen. That is all part of growing up. However, you don’t want broken bones, concussions or dental injuries to spoil the fun.
Dress suitable for playgrounds
Playgrounds are typically dusty and muddy. Make sure the children wear clothes that may get dirty or even torn. Furthermore, avoid loose-fitting clothes and anything that can catch on the equipment. Scarfs, bandannas and necklaces could strangle them if they snag on posts or rails. In addition, check that they don’t wear sandals or flip-flops.
Have “the talk” before letting kids loose in playgrounds
Before you get to the playground, have a chat to explain potential dangers and avoid injuries. For example, explain that pushing others on the top of the slide could cause falls and serious injuries. Similarly, explain the risks of moving into the way of other kids on the swings. Remind them about taking turns to avoid arguments at the playground.
Check that the playground is safe
It is always a good idea to walk through the playground to make sure it is safe. Check for used syringes and broken glass. See whether the areas underneath and around the equipment is covered with shock-absorbing materials. What you want to see is wood chips, gravel, sand, shredded rubber or mulch. Injuries could be serious if children land on dirt, asphalt, grass or concrete. Look out for broken or damaged equipment, missing bolts and screws, rust and insecure guard rails.
Check for age-appropriate equipment
Check for posted signs about the required age for different playground equipment. Some parks have areas for toddlers up to five years and separate areas for children older than five. Small children playing on equipment meant for older kids could fall through gaps and straps designed for bigger and older children. Similarly, older children could get stuck in spaces intended for smaller children.
Note the weather
Summertime is ideal for having fun at playgrounds, but aluminum and metal can become very hot. Similarly, plastic and rubber can become dangerously hot. Choose equipment in shady areas to avoid skin burns that could even cause blisters. In the same vein, playing on wet equipment is unsafe, and it might be safer to come back later. Also, don’t forget about sunscreen.
Last but most important — Supervision
The best way to avoid injuries is to keep your eyes on the children throughout the visit to the playground. Remain close to smaller kids, and keep an eye on the older ones. An injury can spoil everybody’s fun.
I managed to get my grandkids home unscathed, and exhausted — including me! I felt like a winner because I managed to get them away from their video games for an entire afternoon. They made me promise to do it again soon.