In most of the country, the weather is warming up and school is out for the summer which means it’s time to start finding ways to keep your little ones entertained. Trips to the playground can be a great way to let them burn off some energy and get them out of your hair for a couple of hours, but it’s up to you to make sure that they’re a safe place for your family to play. Here are some safety tips to keep everyone safe while letting them have fun.
1. Inspect the Equipment
Before you set your kids loose on the playground, make sure you’re taking the time to inspect the equipment and ensure that it is in good repair. Broken equipment might not be apparent, but it can be dangerous. Look for things like cracks, sharp edges, rust, or very obviously broken things. They may or may not be roped off, depending on whether or not your local park service has been by recently.
One broken thing isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. Just instruct your kids to avoid it. If there are a lot of broken pieces or the entire playground feels like it’s in serious disrepair, consider heading to a different park for your afternoon activities.
2. Look At The Ground
This is the last thing you’ll want to look out for before you give the kids the OK to start playing. Take a close look at the ground below the equipment. Most playgrounds have some sort of shock-absorbing material like mulch, sand or rubber. These are designed to lessen the impact if one of the kids falls off the equipment. Playgrounds on concrete or other solid surfaces can result in injuries and even make injuries worse than they would have been on soft shock-absorbent materials.
Around 200,000 kids end up in the ER every year for playground-related injuries. Checking for proper ground covering before you let them play can reduce your chances of becoming one of those statistics.
3. Supervise Your Kids
Don’t be one of those parents that sets their kids loose and then spends the rest of the afternoon sequestered on a bench staring at your phone or laptop. You don’t need to be a helicopter parent, but making sure that you’re aware of where you’re kids are at all times can help you keep them safe.
This is especially important for little kids who might be prone to wander away, especially if they find a new friend who wants to go try something else. Don’t discourage your kids from making friends, but keep a close eye on them when they’re having their fun.
4. Always Be Prepared
You never know when you’ll need an extra bottle of water or a first-aid kit when you’re out at the park — and it’s better to be prepared than to have to make a trip back to the house if someone needs a drink or skins their knee. You don’t need the full first-aid kit that you’d keep at home. Just pack a little bag with the basics:
- Antiseptic spray
- Instant ice packs
- Sting ointment for insect stings.
If you have anyone in your group that has severe allergies to insect stings or anything they might encounter at the playground, make sure you have everything you’ll need in the event of an allergic reaction.
5. Dress for Success
We get it — it’s hot and no one wants to wear any more than they absolutely have to. That said, make sure everyone is dressed properly for playing safely on the playground. That includes closed-toed shoes and clothing that will protect them from falls and scrapes. A UV-resistant shirt and hat is also a good idea in areas that get a lot of sunlight.
That said, you don’t need to have a specific set of clothes for your next playground trip. Just let them wear whatever is comfortable as long as it helps to keep them safe on the playground.
6. Set Rules and Enforce Them
Before you get to the playground, make sure you talk to your children about the rules they’ll need to follow when they’re playing. They don’t need to be complex or scary, but just setting a few rules can help keep everyone safe on the playground.
Things like only going down the slides feet-first, and not walking in front of the swings when someone is using them can make a huge difference in overall safety. Of course, this won’t apply if your playground doesn’t have slides or swings, so make sure you’re customizing your rules for the area you’re visiting.
7. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Situational awareness is your best friend when you’re worried about keeping your kids safe on the playground. Even if it appears safe to begin with, things can change dramatically in very little time. A creeper can start lingering around the edge of the playground, or a swarm of bees could decide that the slide is a great place to stop for the night before moving on.
We tend to forget about the need for situational awareness, but it’s a valuable skill in all sorts of scenarios. Spend some time honing your skills so by the time you need them, it will become second nature.
Have Fun and Be Safe
Now, don’t let all these tips scare you into staying home. Playgrounds are a great place to make new friends, hang out with old ones, and let your little ones run out all their energy. In general, they’re designed to be safe but it’s always a good idea to do whatever you can to make things just a little bit safer for your young ones.
Article Submitted By Community Writer