6 steps for playground safety

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For kids, the return of warmer weather means more time for fun at the playground. But it also means more chances for getting hurt.

More than 200,000 U.S. children ages 14 and under are brought to emergency departments each year for playground-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are a few important facts that parents and caregivers should know.

  • Some injuries can be serious or fatal. About half of playground injuries are minor—like bruises or scrapes. But about 10 percent of kids who get hurt on playgrounds are treated for traumatic brain injuries, like concussion. In a few cases, swings, jump ropes and even clothing drawstrings have led to strangulation deaths.
  • Kids are more likely to be hurt at public playgrounds. Three-fourths of injuries happen here—often at school playgrounds or recreation centers.
  • Some playground equipment may be especially risky. Injuries—including concussions—are most likely to happen on monkey bars or climbing equipment.
  • Injuries are most common in kids ages 5 to 9. And boys are more likely to get hurt than girls.

Despite these risks, there are some simple steps you can take to help your child stay safe. The next time your family heads out to play, keep these six tips from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in mind.

1. Always supervise kids.

Younger children need an extra close eye. If the playground is so crowded that you can’t safely watch your child, come back another time.

2. Make sure the playground is properly maintained.

Scan for broken equipment or hazards like glass, rocks or tree stumps. Check to make sure that there are guardrails on the equipment, too.

3. Look for soft landing spots.

Playgrounds should have cushiony material underneath—like wood chips or mulch.

4. Keep kids on age-appropriate equipment.

Check playground signs, and follow the posted age limits.

5. Teach your child safety rules.

Encourage your child to walk far away from moving swings and to avoid running, pushing or shoving others.

6. Don't let your child wear clothing with a hood or strings.

Hoods can block a child’s vision. And strings can pose a choking hazard.


Learn more about the importance of playground safety from the ACEP.

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