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Parks and playgrounds offer kids a place for fun and exercise. However, it is important to make sure that your nearby park or playground is safe. Before allowing your child to play on a nearby park or playground, make sure you check it for safety by considering the following:

playground

Equipment Condition

The playground equipment should we clean and well maintained. Metal should not be rusted, nor should wood be cracked and splintered. Make sure hardware such as bolts and hooks are secure with not sharp edges that could injure your child. Avoid playgrounds with broken or damaged equipment. If you see some damage, there are probably additional dangers you cannot see.

Sandbox

If the playground or park has a sandbox, check for hazardous debris and bugs. The sandbox should be covered when not in use.

Swings

Playground swings should be spaced with 30 inches between the swing and the support frame and 24 inches between the swings with only 2 swings in each bay. Full bucket seat tot swings should have their own bay. All swings should be made of short rubber or plastic, not metal or wood.

Fencing

There should be a fence surrounding the playground if it is close to a road or parking lot to prevent your child from running into traffic.

Surface Materials

Surface materials should cover all areas, especially fall zones around the equipment. They should be soft and thick enough to soften a fall. Hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete are not safe. Neither are grasses or hard-packed earth. Loose materials such as mulch, wood chips, mulch, sand, shredded rubber, or pea gravel will cushion falls. Whatever surface material is used should be deep enough to provide a cushion. It is recommended that materials be at least twelve inches deep for equipment up to eight feet high. Surface mats made from rubber or rubber-like material is safe and allows access for people in wheelchairs.

Spacing

Equipment with moving parts, such as swings and seesaws, should be located in a separate area. Play structures more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least 9 feet apart. All openings on equipment such as rungs and bars are ladders or guardrails should be less than 3½ inches wide or wider than 9 inches to prevent a child’s head, arm, or leg from being trapped.

The playground should be designed with spacing to allow you to see your child clearly while they are playing.

Play areas should be designed and designated for three age groups: school age children (5 to 12 year olds; preschoolers (2 to 5 year olds); and infants and toddlers. These areas should be separated to provide the greatest safety.

Adult Supervision

Every year, kids are treated in hospital emergency rooms playground-related injuries, many of which could have been prevented with the proper supervision. Make sure your kids used the playground equipment safely.

It is important that children of every age have adult supervision. Younger children need to be reminded to follow safe playground practices, and older children need to be reminded not to play on equipment designed for younger children or to take risks.

Rules for safe playground use should be taught and enforced.

•Never roughhouse or push.

•Use equipment properly.

•Never use playground equipment that’s wet; moisture makes the surfaces slippery.

•Check to see if the equipment is too hot in summer, contact burns can occur quickly.

•Dress appropriately with no cords, drawstrings, or necklaces that could be caught and cause strangulation.

•Wear sunscreen even if it is cloudy to protect against sunburn.

•Kids should not stand or kneel in a swing or seesaw, and should always ride alone in a seat.

•On slides, kids should always slide down feet first and sitting up.

•Only one child should be on the slide platform at a time.

•Kids should stay clear of the area at the bottom of slides and not climb up a slide.

Play is an important part of kids’ development – physical, social, intellectual, and emotional. Checking your neighborhood park or playground for safety and teaching your children the proper rules for correct use of the equipment can help them have fun and remain safe.

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