Protected at the Playground – Keeping Kids Safe at Play
Tania K. Cowling
How many times do you hear the phrase “are we going out today” from your child? Now that the weather is pleasant, you’ll be able to answer yes more frequently. Whether your child plays at home or you visit a public playground, the most important issue is safety. And today, we are also choosing environmentally safe playgrounds where equipment is eco-friendly and healthy. Here are a few tips for your quest for safe play.
Children fall – it’s part of growing up, but landing on a soft surface will eliminate dangerous medical consequences. Grass, sand, or wood fiber mulch are non-toxic and economical, however they do not adequately cushion a fall. Today you can find crushed rubber mulch made from recycled tires that is eco-friendly and cushions the child’s body.
Types of Safe Playground Structures
For wooden structures, look for Cedar and Redwood that is chemical free and certified by the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative). Older wooden structures are a concern because most wood products were preserved with CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate), a chemical-rich preservative that is unsafe for children. Today, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) prohibits its use.
The use of plastics in playground equipment is a good choice as the structures are strong, colorful and recyclable. The good kind is made from recycled structural plastic (RSP) and/or recycled high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Older playground equipment made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride) should be avoided and replaced due to health concerns.
Overall Playground Safety Checklist
Look over the entire area for these hazardous situations. Fix your own playground or report public playgrounds to the proper authorities.
Check the ground for glass and sharp objects.
Make sure metal equipment does not have sharp edges or rust.
Survey wooden structures for loose boards.
Look for wasp and bees’ nest. Also stinging ants.
Scan for poison ivy or other harmful plants.
Check for holes that animals have dug so children will not trip when running.
Always wash hands thoroughly after visiting the playground.
Following these suggestions will help you make sure that your outdoor playground is fun and safe for children. Enjoy this great outdoor play season!
Safety Rules for Kids
It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children the safety rules of visiting a playground. Here are a few to remember.
Walk far around swings when people are using them so you don’t get bumped.
Hold onto swings with both hands and always sit on your bottom.
Slide down the slide feet first.
Test the slide with your fingers to make sure it is not too hot.
Use two hands whenever climbing the jungle gym.
Sand is for digging and building – it may not be thrown.
Always tell an adult if you find broken glass, sharp objects, a stinging insect, or a stray pet on the playground.
Tania K. Cowling is a former teacher, freelance writer and mother. She writes online and in print magazines focusing on parenting and medical issues. Visit her website: www.taniacowling.com.
For Your information:
These resources will help you maintain safe playgrounds for your children’s’ play.
Kid’s Health: Playground Safety
Safe Kids USA: Playground Safety
National Safety Council: Playground Safety