Playground Injury Prevention Tips for the New School Year
Did you know that every two to two and a half minutes, a child in the United States winds up in the emergency room at the local hospital for a schoolyard or playground-related injury? Unfortunately, it’s the truth. According to a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that hospital emergency rooms see more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related traumatic brain injuries every single year.
Everyone wants to keep their kids safe. However, safety comes at a cost. Since it isn’t exactly fair to keep your children in a plastic, world-proof bubble for their entire lives, what is a worrying parent to do? Well, there are a few efficient things you and your children can do to help with playground injury prevention. So, without further ado, here are some playground injury prevention tips for the new school year:
Step 1 – Inspect Your Local Playground(s) to Improve Playground Injury Prevention
Playgrounds, like any other structure or utility, sometimes require repairs and upkeep. You can both help keep your kids safe and relieve some of the stress of playground maintenance by regularly inspecting the playground yourself. However, that begs the question: What should you be looking for in your inspection? Well, to answer that question, here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Identify old, unsafe play equipment. Monkey bars account for many injuries and are best removed from most modern playgrounds.
- Check playground equipment for hazards such as loose bolts, wood splinters, or sharp edges. Pick up any trash or animal waste that might make your playground unsafe or unsightly.
- Inspect the surfaces under the play structures. They should provide a cushion for where your child jumps or falls.
Step 2 – Teach Your Kids to Practice Safe Play
Falls cause the majority of playground-related injuries. However, you can help prevent falls and other playground injuries. To do so, teach your kids the importance of, and how to practice, what we here at Chain | Cohn | Stiles call “safe play.” Here’s what we mean when we say practice “safe play”:
- Dress Appropriately: Don’t let your kids wear clothing which can get caught or snagged in or around the playground equipment. You should also remove necklaces, purses, scarves, or clothing with drawstrings.
- Wear Proper Shoes: Wearing the proper type of shoes is incredibly influential in the playground. Something as seemingly innocuous as wearing the wrong kind of footwear on the playground can be disastrous. Your children should wear sneakers or tennis shoes with tightly tied laces and fasteners. Children should never wear boots, sandals, or flip flops on the playground.
- Play Nice: Things like roughhousing, horseplay, wrestling, and other violent and risky types of play should be discouraged. Teach your children to share, take turns on the equipment, and to get along with others. Pushing and shoving should never be tolerated.
- Supervise and Be Vigilant: An adult must always supervise children. Make sure they are playing safe and playing nice. Swings should be set far enough away from other equipment that a moving swing won’t hit children. Little kids can play differently than big kids.
Step 3 – Take Action and Raise Awareness
Take further actions to bring awareness to playground injury prevention. Here’s how:
- Help your school survey the children and parents to identify what playground equipment they like and don’t like, which equipment they feel is safe and unsafe.
- If you see anything unsafe, report it to someone who has the authority to address the problem (like the park owner or school principal).
- Challenge your school to an injury-free week on the playground.
- Enlist the help of your elected officials to show their support for safe environments and playgrounds for children.
- Invite a local newscaster or another type of local celebrity to come to the parks in your town to talk about the importance of safe play.
- Write to a local news organization and ask them to run a story praising safe parks and to help identify which parks in your area are unfit for play.
If you or someone you know is injured in a playground accident, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online.