Visiting your local playground to let the kids play, exercise, and build social skills is fun. Keep it fun and enjoyable by checking the equipment before sending them off for their adventure and be sure that you visit one that is geared towards your child’s age an abilities.
Check the Ground Cover
A majority of playground injuries happen when children fall from the playground equipment to the ground. Emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children for playground injuries each year according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPSC).
The safest playgrounds will be surrounded by at least 6 feet of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel that is 12 inches or deeper. Rubber mats or rubber-like material is another safe option to look for. Do not let your child play on playgrounds surrounded by concrete or asphalt. The area should also be debris-free including larger rocks.
Check the Climbing Structures
Climbing is one of the things children enjoy the most at playgrounds and is an excellent way to build skills such as strength, coordination, and depth perception. Be sure to check the equipment for important safety features.
Guardrails and barriers should be present on any platforms higher than 30 inches off of the ground. Cargo nets should be spaced no more than 3 1/2 inches wide between ropes or larger than 9 inches wide. This ensures that a child’s head cannot get trapped between the spaces presenting strangulation hazards.
Ladders, steps, and rungs should be evenly spaces while round rungs should be approximately 1-inch to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Check the equipment for sharp edges and points. If the play equipment is made of wood, check for nails or screws extruding from the wood.
Metal equipment should be free of rust and peeling paint which could contain lead-based paint.
What to Wear
How you dress your child for their day out is also important. Be sure they are not wearing anything that could get caught on the equipment or present a strangulation hazard. Avoid apparel with drawstrings and hoods, such as sweatshirts, and do not let them wear things that hang down from their necks including necklaces or lanyards.