Bars and Seesaws Can Be More Dangerous Than You Think
By Olivia Long, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
can provide children with fun, exercise, fresh air and the chance
to interact with their peers. Unfortunately, these seemingly safe
recreational areas pose a number of hidden safety hazards.
to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 200,000 children visit hospital
emergency rooms each year with playground-related injuries, ranging
from bad cuts and bruises to broken bones and head injuries.
careless behavior is a contributing factor to an injury on a playground,
faulty equipment and improper surfaces are an equal part of the
equation. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC),
playground equipment should be labeled with a minimum age and should
be surrounded by protective surfacing. Each piece of equipment needs
to be firmly anchored with devices set below the surface to prevent
tripping over them. Additionally, the playground should be designed
with enough space for children to enter and leave equipment without
colliding with other children.
CPSC found that in nearly 60 percent of playground injuries, children
were hurt falling to the playground surface. Even nonfatal injuries
from playground falls can be very serious. A child who falls 10
feet is at risk of a spinal cord injury and paralysis.
the surface itself will not prevent falls, it can provide protection
from injuries or reduce their severity. The surface should be soft
and thick enough to minimize the impact of a child's fall. Instead
of grass or soil, the ground should be covered 12 inches deep with
shredded rubber, hardwood fiber mulch or fine sand. Rubber mats
at the bottom of slides and under swings are especially important.
can also help prevent injuries by taking the following precautions:
Make sure playground equipment is in good working order. Be on the
lookout for loose or damaged supports; broken or missing rails,
steps, rungs or seats; worn bearings or chains; and environmental
hazards like roots, rocks or puddles. Also, be on the lookout for
sharp points or edges on equipment that can cause injuries.
" Remove hood and neck drawstrings from children's clothing
and outerwear to avoid strangulation hazards. Do not allow children
to wear helmets, necklaces, purses or scarves on the playground.
" Don't allow children to engage in any pushing, shoving or
crowding around playground equipment. In order to provide undivided
attention, parents need to keep the children in sight and in reach
on the playground.
" Keep toddlers under age 5 in a separate play area, fenced
off from equipment designed for bigger kids because the equipment
sizes and proportions are not right for small children.
" Check the playground equipment in the summertime. Under a
sweltering sun, equipment, especially metal slides, can become dangerously
hot. If it feels hot to the touch, it is probably not safe to play
equipment and supervising children are extremely important, but
can only be so effective. Children should understand how to be safe
and act responsibly at the playground. Knowing how to use the slides,
monkey bars, swings and seesaws will allow children, and adults,
to enjoy the playground in the safest way possible.
more information about playground safety, call 404-785-KIDS or visit
Long is a certified playground inspector with the Children's Healthcare
of Atlanta Injury Prevention program.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare
systems in the country, is a not-for-profit organization that benefits
from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community.
Operating three hospitals with more than half a million patient
visits annually, Children's is recognized for excellence in cancer,
cardiac, neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant services, as well
as many other pediatric specialties. To learn more about Children's
Healthcare of Atlanta, visit our Web site at www.choa.org
or call 404-250-KIDS.