Playgrounds are fun, but the potential for an injury lurks everywhere. At public playgrounds, municipalities take a few precautions to minimise potentially dangerous situations, but you and the children still play at your own risk. Parents and guardians need to take responsibility for the safety of their children. They can do this by examining the playground's condition, maintaining constant watch over their children and having supplies handy to address minor bumps and cuts.
Prevent Injuries From Falls, Equipment
About 70 per cent of playground injuries occur from falls. Certain surfaces can minimise such injuries. These include hardwood fibre/mulch, pea gravel, sand, rubber granules and rubber mats/tiles. Keep children away from playgrounds that have surfaces made from concrete, asphalt, grass (which can hide stones, broken glass and other objects), packed dirt or rocks. Equipment must be anchored securely into the ground and each piece must be in good working order.
Regular park maintenance also will help reduce injuries. Damaged materials must be removed and replaced. Broken equipment must be closed off to children or discarded. Dangerous gaps in equipment and areas that can entangle a child's head, arm, or leg must be eliminated. Ropes and chains that are part of the equipment must be secured. Debris and rocks must be removed.
Parent Imposed Rules
Parents need to teach children about safety for themselves and others with whom they play. Some precautions that parents can take in the playground include: 1) prevent burns by making sure metal surfaces such as swings and monkey bars are cool before children touch them; 2) tie loose clothing draw strings so they can't become caught in equipment. Tie sneaker laces so a children won't trip; 3) make sure none of the jungle gym equipment has loose parts or ropes that can cause neck burns or strangulation; 4) make sure parent and child always can see each other; 5) enforce the rule that the child never leaves the protected area of the playground or ventures to nearby car parks or streets; 6) teach children not to walk close to swings and other equipment when others are using them.
Posted Playground Rules
Playgrounds have specific activities that are prohibited. Usually a sign is posted with a huge "NO" followed by a number of unacceptable activities. Most playgrounds don't permit running, ball playing, roller blades, rough play, fighting and bringing glass bottles and pets into the play area. Children of all ages must adhere to these rules to prevent injuries to themselves and others.
Age Appropriate Fun
Determine if playground equipment is appropriate for the age of the child. Older children, who are stronger and faster, should be able to have fun on equipment that is located in sections separate from the play areas used by the youngest children.
First Aid Kit
The playground office should have a basic first aid kit. If there isn't an office, or if no one is regularly on duty, pack a small kit that contains band aids, towelettes, a disinfectant, a dry wash cloth and a cold compress that you can activate immediately.
Protection Against Sun, Thirst
Playing outside on a warm day can cause sunburn and dehydration. Make sure sunscreen has been applied to all exposed skin. Have ample water handy to quench thirst and a wet face cloth to wipe away perspiration. A healthy snack, such as small pieces of fresh fruit, also can be ready when a little rest time is needed.
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