Playgrounds, adorned with the latest outdoor play equipment and structures, are great venues for children to develop their motor abilities, cognitive aptitude, and socializing skills. But sometimes, playgrounds pose hazards to children, even if all their child playground equipment have met and satisfied every safety standard.
Children are daredevils. They do most things regardless of the consequences that follow, even if that means getting themselves into trouble. They are also naturally impulsive and mischievous. They are always curious and are always on their toes for the opportunity to discover something new or fun. If left on their own, they sometimes inadvertently hurt themselves, even in playgrounds.
Every 150 seconds, a child in the United States gets injured in a playground-related activity. Over 200,000 children are brought to hospitals for playground-connected injuries, most of which are bad falls to hard surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, or ground. Most of these injuries are avoidable if proper security and safety restrictions are enforced.
But while children cannot practice the measures of safety, fortunately their parents, their guardians, and those who make outdoor play equipment can.
While giving children a lecture on playing and keeping safe is a good idea, children most of the time disregard or forget these warnings and precautions in the spirit of fun. For parents and guardians, constant supervision is a key when keeping their child out of harm’s way. Looking out for hazards such as slippery spots in the trail or checking playground equipment or play structures before a child uses it are just some of the things parents and guardians can do to prevent accidents or injuries from playing on or near outdoor play equipment.
A child playground or any outdoor playground equipment must be installed with the following for safety purposes:
• Protective surface – bad falls are the most frequent kind of accident that happens on playgrounds. To prevent or minimize the damage, every outdoor playground equipment manufacturer or play structure must be floored with 12 inches of resilient and protective surfacing materials such as rubber and sponge-like materials. This protective surfacing provides a cushion for any fall from a play structure like a swing, seesaw, or monkey bars.
• Guard rails – the absence of these protective railings on small bridges, walkways, platforms, and ramps can lead to accidental falls. Guard rails and other protective barriers must also be attached to play structures that are elevated from the ground.
• Cameras – parents and guardians cannot always keep watch over their children, so a camera in a playground is a useful and sound addition for safety and security purposes.
A playground’s design should cater to the spacing requirement of its child playground equipment. In most cases, a playground is separated into two areas; one area for the 0-5 year olds (preschool children) and 5-12 year olds (school-age children). A safe playground must have its outdoor playground equipment and other play structures labeled with the age bracket of children that they have been designed for.
Playground equipment and other play structures that are higher than 30 inches must be spaced at least 9 feet apart. For swings, the recommended seats per bay are a maximum of two, and must be spaced at least 24 inches apart from each other, and from the supporting framework at least 30 inches. Swings for tots must have their own bay.
Certain playground equipment have openings that can trap a child’s head; they can enter feet first but their heads get stuck dangerously. It is recommended that child playground equipment manufacturers should design gaps in their products to be less than 3 ½ inches; otherwise they should be wider than 9 inches.
Metals are excellent conductors of heat and if exposed too long under the sun, can cause third degree burns upon contact. Outdoor playground equipment manufacturer made of metal such as metal slides, jungle gyms, and monkey bars that are directly exposed to the sun must not be used by children during sunny weather. Metal-made playground equipment must not be used when they show signs of rust or if they have any twisted or protruding parts that can cut or pierce.
Maintenance and inspection by the playground management must be done to ensure that all playground equipment is safe for use and that children are insured from any preventable accidents.
Though parental supervision is paramount to children’s safety in playgrounds, teaching kids to act responsibly is still a must to complete the safety equation. Parents should instill in their children the following:
• Follow the instructions that are labeled on every playground equipment;
• Do not push or harass other children while using outdoor playground equipment;
• Wear sneakers while playing to prevent from slipping (depending on the playground equipment, a child may be required to take his or her shoes off);
• Be patient when waiting for a turn on any particular piece of playground equipment.
Playgrounds are meant to be a place where children spend their time in leisure, not in danger. But still, parents and guardians must be vigilant to prevent accidents from happening.
Ed Concepcion’s 80 year success of supplying indoor and outdoor playground equipment manufacturer to schools, parks and churches. Miracle Recreation’s commitment to quality results in high quality playground equipment that adheres to the highest standards of child playground equipment safety.