It’s just about every parent’s worst nightmare — you let your children go out and enjoy the playground, you turn your head for a second and one of your kids has hurt themselves. The Canadian Paediatric Society says at least 29,000 children under 15 are forced to go to the emergency room for playground injuries each year. Now we don’t want you to be too alarmed — this only accounts for less than one per cent of children in Canada, but it’s still a good idea to teach kids playground safety.
Establish clear boundaries for children on the playground
According to a CBC news report, the number of playground injuries has been increasing steadily over the years. While it’s still unclear exactly what is causing this trend, some experts in the above report believe it has to do with playground design. Equipment for different age groups is sometimes grouped closely together. So for example, a 5-year-old may be tempted to use monkey bars designed for 10 to 12-year-olds. Since it’s probable that the bars will be higher and more difficult to climb, the 5-year-old has an increased chance of getting hurt on the playground.
Get involved in playground design and safety— go to school parental advisory meetings
One possible way to address this problem would be to get involved in the playground design process. If a school has announced that it will be building a new playground, participating in parental advisory meetings can be a good start. Voice your opinion and ask schools to increase distance between equipment meant for older kids and equipment meant for younger children.
However, if a school has already built a playground with older kids’ equipment close to the younger children’s play area, that may not be an option. In this case, you’ll simply have to teach kids safety on the playground by showing them which toys are appropriate for their age and which aren’t. Go to the school playground on a weekend and point it out to your children.
Showing proper play techniques is a great way to teach kids playground safety
A lot of playground injuries can be prevented by teaching children proper playground conduct in a jungle-gym type of area, or even in general play spaces. While many kids are capable of figuring out how to behave themselves in a playground, it’s best to go over these seemingly common-sense rules to be extra safe. The Alberta Health Services website has a great guide which gives some good pointers:
Some examples include:
- Waiting your turn
- No pushing, shoving or tripping
- Keep ropes and scarves away from playground equipment and fences
- Keep clear of moving things
- Hold on with both hands when swinging or climbing
- Only one person on the slide at a time
- Slide down feet first and sitting up
Pay special attention to how your kids use equipment like playground nets or monkey bars. A study published in Paediatric Child Health says falling from equipment is the main cause of playground injuries.
Stay vigilant when your child is on the playground
There are some occasions when a parent can find something inherently dangerous in a playground. Whether it’s a broken swing or broken glass, you’d do well to report it to local authorities. If you don’t know where to start, Safe Kids Canada is a great place to go. Call them at 1-888-SAFE-TIPS, 1-888-723-3847.