When you were a kid, what was your favorite place? Was it the backyard garden, a kindergarten classroom, or your family’s kitchen table?
For many kids, their favorite place is the playground. My first grade students proved this day after day. Every morning, they would count down the hours to recess. When the bell finally rang, they’d leap up and trade in their math facts and phonics worksheets for time on the swings and slides. Playing on the playground gave them a much needed break from learning (and let me catch my breath after the chaos of teaching).
The playground is more than just fun, though—it’s also necessary for a child’s development. According to a medically-reviewed Healthline article, kids who take time to play “develop physically and discover a slew of emotional skills, and they learn how to process the world.” Because play is so important, it’s absolutely vital that parks and schoolyards feature safe playground equipment so that kids can have fun without running the risk of tripping or injuring themselves.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s learn a little more about the importance of safe playground equipment.
Why Is a Safe Play Area Important?
Growing up, I took every opportunity to play on the playground, no matter what condition play structures were in. Looking back, this may not have been the best idea.
According to the CDC, more than 200,000 children are treated for playground-related injuries every year. Of these injuries, 45% are severe wounds like fractures, concussions, and dislocations. Ouch! About 75% of these injuries occur on public playgrounds at schools and parks, while the remaining 25% occur on home play structures.
A safe and well-maintained play area lessens the chance of injury considerably, giving children the chance to explore without getting hurt. If your kids are like my students, they love to play imagination games on the playground. Providing them with a safe space to play pretend helps kids with social and emotional development and expands their problem solving skills. Mostly, though, it’s just fun!
How to Check for Safe Equipment
Not every park is created equal. Some are better maintained than others, and thus, better suited for kiddos. When you arrive at the park, do a quick walkaround to ensure that playground equipment is up to snuff. Check for these things:
- Structures are surrounded by mulch, rubber mats, or other protective ground coverings.
- There are no tripping hazards like tree roots or rocks.
- There’s enough space for kids to run around without obstacles.
- Structures and slides are bolted to the ground.
- Towers have secure railings and aren’t too high.
- Swings are made of rubber or plastic instead of wood or metal.
- The play structure isn’t too hot or wet.
- The design allows for easy adult supervision.
If your local playground checks these boxes, set your child free to play!
Teach Your Child Playground Safety
Of course, safe playground equipment can still be dangerous if your child doesn’t know proper playground safety. Here are some basic rules to remind your kiddo about, courtesy of KidsHealth:
- Never push or roughhouse while on playground equipment.
- Use equipment properly—slide feet-first, don’t climb outside guardrails, and don’t stand on swings.
- Always check to make sure no other kids are in the way before you slide.
- Leave bikes, backpacks, and bags away from equipment so nobody trips over them.
- Never use playground equipment that’s wet or hot.
- Wear clothes without drawstrings or cords; they could get caught on equipment.
- Wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days!
Keep an Eye on Your Kids
While at the playground, make sure to keep a steady eye on your children. Even if they’re following safe playground procedures on a well-maintained playground, the chance of injury is never zero. Your quick reaction and response could help your child avoid more severe injuries.
If you trust your kids to play safely without supervision, ensure that they have a fully charged cell phone with them. This way, if trouble or injuries arise, you’re only one phone call away.
If your child doesn’t have a smartphone, check out Troomi. Kid-friendly smartphones from Troomi Wireless help you and your kiddo stay in contact as they play. Troomi phones also arrive preloaded with emergency phone numbers like 911, giving your child the tools necessary to handle emergency situations.
The Playground Is a Magical Place
The playground is nothing to be afraid of. By making sure that your child is playing on safe playground equipment, reminding them how to play safely, and keeping an eye on them as they explore, the playground can be a magical place that kids of all ages enjoy. After all, there’s nothing more important during childhood than good ol’ fashioned fun.
After checking out the playground, come back and check out the Troomi blog! We update it every weekday with helpful parenting tips and tricks that you won’t want to miss.