The warm summer weather means more time outside and taking your children to the playground. While playgrounds are a great way for children to stay healthy and active, they can also cause injuries. One wrong move when jumping, sliding, or swinging on playground equipment can lead to a sprain, fracture or concussion.
When arriving at the playground, there are a few easy steps that you can take to manage the risk that your children may encounter.
Ensure that the playground has safe surfacing around and beneath equipment. Avoid playgrounds with non-impact absorbing surfaces, such as asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt and gravel. Sand, pea gravel, wood chips, mulch and shredded rubber are better surface options because they help to absorb the energy from a fall, which in turn reduces the impact. The playground surface should extend at least six feet in all directions around stationary equipment.
Teach your child how to properly use equipment to help reduce injury risk. Showing your child how to play on equipment like swings, monkey bars and slides can help to prevent injuries caused by improper equipment use. Sitting improperly on a swing, jumping off swings, climbing up slides, and sitting on top of monkey bars can cause your child to fall or even crash into another child on the playground.
Choose the right equipment based on your child’s age. Ensure that your children are using age-appropriate playground equipment. The playground should have designated areas for children under five that are separate from the playground equipment for children five and older. Playground equipment accommodates the age and skill levels of children because of this, a five year old may have trouble playing on equipment that is created for older children. The height and size of the equipment is greater, which could increase the fall risk for younger children. For babies who are learning to walk, the play area should have a smooth and easy surface to walk on.
Ensure that the playgrounds are maintained by qualified personnel. Check with your school and child care center to make sure that the playground equipment is age-appropriate and well-maintained. If there are any hazards in a public or backyard playground, report them immediately and do not allow children to use the equipment until it is safe. Report any playground safety hazards to the organization responsible for the site. Broken equipment and sharp corners can cause injury to children.
While safety at the playground may seem obvious, the risk for injury isn’t. Taking necessary precautions can save you a trip to the doctor or emergency room.
If your child has an orthopedic injury or concussion, you can see an IBJI specialist by making an appointment or visiting one of IBJI’s OrthoAccess immediate care clinics to be seen the same day.
Jack Pyde is a Marketing Specialist at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute.