Spring is officially here, and a trip to the playground is often a go-to activity that both parents and children enjoy. While the risks and dangers associated with swimming or riding a bike might seem more obvious however, keeping our children safe on the playground is just as important.
Each year, approximately 15 children die from injuries involving playground equipment, and more than 200,000 are treated in emergency rooms. Falls account for 80 percent of playground injuries, however, most playground fatalities are caused by strangulation and tend to occur on home playgrounds, not on public property.
The National Program for Playground Safety has declared April 23-27 National Playground Safety Week. This is a time to pledge to use good judgment when playing. Here are a few tips to create a safe playground area at your home and what to look out for at public playgrounds:
• Check the outdoor environment for poisonous plants and remove them.
• Check the play area and remove glass, litter, and large loose rocks.
• Check playground equipment for sharp and rough edges.
• Check and make sure playground equipment is painted with lead-free paint.
• Teach children how to play safely on the equipment.
• Get the children involved in creating playground rules.
• Praise children for using the playground appropriately.
• Remove a misbehaving child from play and explain how his or her actions could hurt someone.
Summer weather also requires some special safety guidelines. For instance, make sure children have access to water during vigorous play. Provide shaded play areas on the playground. If there is no natural shade, make your own by using well-secured tents or canopies. Don’t forget the sunscreen lotion, hats, sun visors, and other protective clothing. Cover sandboxes when not in use to discourage neighborhood pets from using them as litter boxes.
A few precautions will help ensure a fun and safe spring and summer for the children in your care.
For more information, contact Kim Reid, Extension Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.