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5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe at the Playground

Photo credit: iStock/gpointstudio

Photo credit: iStock/gpointstudio

The playground is a parent’s best friend on a sunny day. Little kids get the chance to run, climb, swing and slide—and hopefully, tire themselves out so much they fall to sleep quickly and easily at night.

But with those advantages comes a downside—injuries. More than 200,000 children go to the ER each year because of playground-related injuries according to the National Center for Playground Safety. From bruises and scrapes to broken bones and head injuries, playground structures open kids to the possibility of getting hurt. However, with the proper supervision and attention to a few useful tips, parents can keep their kids safe at the playground. 

Tip 1: Adult supervision is most important. The easiest way to keep your child safe at the playground is to keep your eye on them. Toddlers should be “shadowed” by an adult either on or very close to the structure, while older kids should be minded from a safe distance. Parents know their child’s physical capabilities, and they can recognize if their son or daughter is playing on equipment beyond their abilities or if they are taking unnecessary risks. In addition, if an injury occurs, a mindful parent can respond quickly to the situation.

Tip 2: Make sure the playground is safe. Another way to minimize risk is to ensure your child is playing in a secure environment. Check to make sure the play area has shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber mats, pea gravel, wood chips, mulch or sand. Avoid concrete or grass. Also look for hardware that sticks out, broken equipment, tripping hazards and secure guardrails. On a sunny day, test structure surfaces to make sure they aren’t a burn risk. Trust your instincts—if the playground looks uncared for, it probably is. (For a playground safety check-list, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission.)

Tip 3: Teach your child safe play tactics. Sure, kids will be kids, but keeping them safe on the playground requires a little instruction on manners towards other children. Talk with your child about the dangers of pushing, hitting and shoving others on a play structure, and monitor their behavior to enforce these rules. In addition, encourage your child to be mindful when walking around the swings and teach them to wait patiently for popular equipment. The good news is if you encourage these behaviors at an early age, they will hopefully apply them to the school playground during recess.

Tip 4: Make sure your child is playing in an age-appropriate play area. Many playgrounds separate their play structures based on age—and for good reason. Play structures designed for older kids (say, age 6-12) will typically have a harder skill level and are higher off the ground than those designed for toddlers and preschoolers.

Tip 5: Respond immediately. Should your child get hurt at the playground, be sure to act accordingly. Pack a few Band-Aids, wet wipes and an antibiotic cream to deal with any minor cuts. For bumps and bruises, apply ice to the injured area as soon as you get home.

If your child’s injury takes place on the weekend or in the evening and seems like it requires immediate attention from a physician, don’t stress. St. Christopher’s Hospital offers a walk-in urgent care center in Abington with convenient weekend, holiday and evening hours. For more information, visit stchristophershospital.com.