Playing It Safe: Tips for Preventing Playground Injuries
TEACHING YOUNG CHILDREN | VOL. 5 NO. 4 Download PDF
PHOTO © ELLEN SENISI
Playgrounds are fun places where children can explore, move, and play. But they can be dangerous if children are unsupervised or if the area is not properly designed or maintained. Accidents happen for many reasons, but you can prevent them. The following tips can help you keep children safe.
Conduct a quick survey
Before allowing children to play, make sure
The area is designed so adults can supervise children at all times.
The playground is free of hazards. For example, make sure the ground is free of trash and broken glass.
There is safety surfacing beneath equipment, especially under climbing materials. Look for a thick layer of mulch, sand, or synthetic shockabsorbing surfacing, such as shredded rubber.
The equipment is in good repair. Rust, exposed nails or screws, and loose pieces can be hazardous. Plastics should be free of cracks and wood free of splinters.
There is adequate shading. If equipment is metal, ensure it is not too hot.
Steer children to age-appropriate equipment
Playgrounds are often designed for multiple age groups. Help children stay safe by limiting their exploration to equipment that is appropriate for them.
Areas for preschoolers should have
Smaller steps and crawl spaces.
Low platforms with short ladders or ramps with grips.
Shorter slides, usually less than 4 feet high.
No rope or chain climbers hung at an angle, horizontal bars, or sliding poles.
Experts estimate that nearly half of all playground injuries are related to inadequate supervision.
Watch children at all times. For example, monitor the slide so children go up the ladder one at a time.
If there is more than one adult, split up so you each can watch the area from a different perspective.
Discuss playground safety
Discuss safety measures with children.
Work with them to create three or four playground guidelines, such as “Make sure I can see my teacher” and “Take turns on the slide.”
Post the guidelines on the classroom wall and discuss them periodically.
Review and share resources
Review (or develop) playground safety guidelines for your program. Discuss them with your colleagues and supervisor and update them when needed. Share them with families when they first enroll their children.
If your program has a playground, conduct a thorough safety check. Talk to your colleagues and supervisor about any problems you find.
Playground safety resources
National Recreation and Park Association
National Program for Playground Safety
US Consumer Product Safety Commission
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