All parents want to keep their child as safe as possible. And even though it's typically a place that is considered safe, there is always the possibility for children to get hurt on the playground. Here are some playground safety standards and guidelines that parents should know to prevent their child from being injured.
Children Need to Be Active
There is an alarming trend in America that holds idle play in poor regard. In today's society, some parents are unaware of the important role of playing and being active in child development. According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, children create their own learning experiences through play, similar to how a child learns to talk by babbling sounds.
Normal free play is crucial for developing social skills, emotional coping skills, and makes children smarter, better adjusted and less stressed, according to an article in Scientific American Magazine. In the article, a psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine examined the history of more than 6,000 people, including several who were in prison for murder. According to the research, those who had the fewest opportunities for play as children had the most difficulties later in life.
Active play is crucial for children's physical health as well. With childhood obesity at an all time high, getting the kids outside to play on the playground is important to prevent further health problems later in life.
Playground Equipment at Home
If a family has enough space, having playground equipment at home can be ideal for daily play. Playground equipment is available at many toy stores or home centers. When selecting playground equipment, parents need to keep a few things in mind:
- Playground equipment shouldn't have any protruding hardware or sharp pieces.
- Playground equipment needs to be age and size appropriate for the children.
- There needs to be adequate space to cushion any falls from the equipment.
- Playground equipment should always be secured to prevent it from tipping over.
Playground equipment needs to have at least nine inches of wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber for any playground equipment that is up to seven feet high. If sand is used, there should be at least nine inches of material for playground equipment that is up to five feet high. Another option would be using safety-tested rubber mats. Be sure to check the equipment each time it is used for sharp surfaces or protruding hardware.
Keep Kids S.A.F.E
When kids are playing in an environment that parents don't control, such as at the local public playground, there are some things that parents must do to ensure the safety of their children.
S. This stands for supervision. Children should always be supervised when playing on any playground equipment. Parents should never tether anything to a child or to equipment because it presents a strangulation hazard. Parents need to remain close by to watch for hazards and intercede in playground activities if necessary.
A. This stands for age appropriate. Everyone has gone to the park and noticed the big kids playing on the equipment meant for the small kids. Parents need to ensure that their children are taking part in play that is age appropriate for them to prevent children being hurt. Smaller children play different from the larger kids and they need to play separately.
F. This stands for falls. Playground equipment needs to have plenty of cushioning for falls. Children are inherently clumsy, especially the little ones. The same standards for cushioning mentioned above should also be found at public playgrounds.
E. This stands for equipment safety. Just as parents with equipment at home need to ensure that there are no safety hazards such as sharp edges or protruding hardware, the same is true for public playground equipment. If parents have any doubt about playground safety, they should inform the authority responsible for maintaining the playground immediately.
Indoor playgrounds are great options when the weather is bad or if it's later in the evening and the sun has gone down. Indoor playgrounds can be found in shopping malls, stores and fast food restaurants. These playgrounds are typically very safe as they are usually constructed with plastic or a softer padded material to prevent injuries. Children also are not usually allowed to wear shoes on the equipment, both to protect the equipment and the other children.
There are even indoor playgrounds that are more like amusement parks. Often these parks use air filled equipment which is very safe as the cushioning is built in.
With a little bit of parental diligence, children can safely get the physical activity that they need for good health. Even when the weather is bad children can play at indoor playgrounds, building critical social skills and burning off some of their abundance of energy.