Play it safe
We naturally tend to assume that a playground is a safe place for children, and in most cases that’s absolutely true. However, where the safety of children is concerned, you can never be too cautious.
Before you head out to your local park with the kids this spring, take a few minutes to visit on your own first and have a look around to make sure it has:
- Good sightlines. Make sure the playground equipment is designed so that it’s easy to see your child when they’re playing on it.
- Proper ground covering. Play spaces that have safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials on the ground are preferable because they have the ability to provide some cushioning if a child falls. Likewise, playgrounds that are loosely filled with materials like wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel or shredded rubber are much safer than hard surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and blacktop.
- Proper maintenance. If the wood is splintering, paint is chipping, and any of the equipment is broken or damaged, find another park for your kids and make sure to report the park’s disrepair to your local city or town parks department or other proper authorities.
- Rules and regulations. Some parks, especially those with splash pads, post signs indicating rules, age regulations, and safety information on or near park equipment. Make sure to review these rules before you allow your child to explore the play space.
- Age-appropriate equipment. Playground equipment should be designed for three different groups: infants and toddlers under 2, children 2 – 5 years old, and 5 – 12-year olds.1 The safest playgrounds will separate play spaces meant for younger children from those meant for older kids, so look for signs and make sure your kids are playing in the right area.
Remember that even a park that’s in perfect repair and has included every safety precaution in its construction is still a place where children and parents need to exercise caution and common sense. Keep older children away from spaces meant for the younger ones, watch for slippery areas if it has rained recently, make sure kids stay clear of areas at the bottom of slides – particularly those made of tubes, and encourage your children to pay attention to the people and spaces around them to avoid accidentally bumping into or knocking down another child.
If you want to make sure the parks in your community are as clean and safe as possible, consider organizing or participating in a Foresters Playfinders event. This program provides the resources for you, your family and the Foresters community to explore the playspaces in your area, tidy them and make sure they’re mapped on the KaBOOM! Map of Play. It’s a great way for your whole family to do something fun and worthwhile together while enjoying the local play spaces in your neighborhood.
You can find out more about the Playfinders program by reading this article which takes you through the event step-by-step. Visit MyForesters.com to find out more about how you and your family can get involved in this volunteer event that will benefit everyone in your community.
Local play spaces are places where memories are made and friendships are born. Taking a few precautions – or getting involved in a Foresters-sponsored Playfinders event – will ensure that those fun spaces are as safe as possible for all the children who use them.
For more information about park and playground safety, including a thorough list of things to watch out for, visit KidsHealth.
413495A CA/US (04/16)