Spring is officially here, and a trip to the playground is often a go-to activity that both parents and kids enjoy. While the risks and dangers associated with swimming or riding a bike might seem more obvious, Safe Kids Grand Forks reminds parents to not let their guard down when their kids are playing on the playground. Active supervision and certain safety precautions are necessary to ensure their kids remain healthy and safe. Playground falls tend to be one of the most common non fatal injuries seen in our local emergency room. While kids are not dying on playgrounds, their injuries often require surgery or overnight hospitalizations.
National Playground Safety Week is April 20-24. Each year, approximately 6 children die from injuries involving playground equipment, and more than 200,000 are treated in emergency rooms. Falls account for 80 percent of playground injuries; however, most playground fatalities are caused by strangulation and tend to occur on home playgrounds, not on public property.
Nothing can take the place of active supervision, but we do need to make sure our kids are playing in safe environments in the first place. Playgrounds should be separate for children ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12, and they should have safe surfacing beneath and surrounding all playground equipment.
Grass and soil are not good playground surfaces. The ground should be covered, 12 inches deep, with energy-absorbing materials like shredded rubber, wood chips or sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment. It won’t prevent falls, but it can prevent injuries or reduce their severity.
Even nonfatal injuries from playground falls can be very serious. About 45% of playground-related injuries are severe, which include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations.
Parents and caregivers need to keep kids in sight and in reach on the playground. Simply being in the same place as your child isn’t necessarily supervising. Kids on a playground need your undivided attention.
Safe Kids Grand Forks also reminds parents and caregivers to:
- Make sure playground equipment is inspected frequently and kept in good repair. If you notice issues at a community playground, get in touch with the entity that is in charge of it so they can fix the issues and assure that it is well maintained.
- Remove hood and neck drawstrings from childrens’ clothing and outerwear as they can pose a risk for strangulation on playground equipment. Don’t let kids wear helmets, necklaces, purses or scarves on the playground either.
- Don’t allow your kids to engage in, or play near, any pushing, shoving or crowding around playground equipment.
- Keep toddlers under age 5 in a separate play area, away from equipment designed for bigger kids. Many playgrounds are separated into two age groups, one for children ages 2-5 and the other for kids ages 5-12. Kids should play on equipment that is designed for their specific age.
For more information about playground safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at email@example.com. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.
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