Everybody remembers having fun in a playground sometime in their childhood. Playgrounds are great spaces to enjoy being outdoors, making friends and blowing off some of that winter steam. From 24th to the 30th April is National Playground Safety week .With the arrival of spring most of the playgrounds are open. It is however important that safety checks be made after the closed season to make sure that everything is in good order.
Importance of Inspecting Playgrounds
Particularly after a winter season, all equipment should be checked to make sure that that bolts have not loosened, wood hasn’t splintered. Check that swings are in good condition.
Pick up any animal waste.
Check that the fall zone around playing equipment is clear and provides a soft landing for the child.
All surfaces under equipment where a child may fall should provide a cushion like surface. I.e. Wood Chips, sand or shredded tyres.
Check for any possibility that the child’s head could get trapped .Openings in equipment should be smaller than three and half inches or larger than nine inches.
Remove old and unsafe equipment. Note: Monkey bars have been responsible for many accidents and are now often being removed from the playground.
Tips for safety when playing
Most playground injuries happen from falls .Swings, Ladders, Slides can be a potential risk. Give attention to:-
Supervision: – Children should be supervised by an adult at all times in the play area. They should be playing safely and in a friendly way with the other children. Watch out that younger children and not out of their depth on equipment that is too big for them .Watch out for swings being pushed too high or for merry go rounds being spun too fast.
Dress: – make sure that children are dressed for whatever the weather is. They also should not have loose clothing that may get caught on playground equipment.
Shoes: – The correct shoes are also important. Make sure that if possible they are wearing athletic shoes which will allow a good grip on climbing equipment.
Teach children to share: – it is an important lesson of growing up that children learn to share equipment and play well together.
Other helpful suggestions
Help out at your school and local community. If you see any unsafe equipment report it to the school or your park authority.
Take an interest in your school and local parks. Survey parents and children to see which playground equipment is preferred and which parents feel may be unsafe.
Remind your community leaders of National Playground Safety Week. Ask that they give their support.
Run a competition at a local school or community centre asking children to draw posters of their play ground and safe play.
Write an article which could be published in a local newspaper highlighting safe playgrounds and which ones still need attention to bring them up to standard.
The safety of the children is paramount. Playground injuries do occur. However if the above points are adhered to, then it will reduce the likelihood and allow for a friendly injury free outdoor time.