Outdoor play is essential for the overall development of your child. Thankfully, public playgrounds provide the space and environment for young children to explore and enjoy the outdoors. Nevertheless, there are certain dangers parents should be aware of when choosing a public playground. Here are the top eight playground dangers every parent needs to know about.
1. Hard or Uneven Surfaces
Check for proper surfacing and quality cushioning material that will allow for a safe landing if your child falls. Fall zones around public playground equipment should extend out in all directions to protect children from injury.
2. Age-Appropriate Playground Equipment
Playground equipment usually has different levels for children of different ages. So it is important to ensure that your children use equipment that is appropriate for their physical size. Make sure your child stays away from equipment for older children to keep them out of danger.
3. Old or Faulty Equipment
Before your children use a public playground, do a thorough check to ensure the apparatus is up-to-date. Look out for rust, broken or missing parts and splintered or sharp edges that can cause accidents or cuts. Avoid equipment consisting of metal or wood. Heavy swings and free-swinging ropes are also unsafe.
4. Gaps and Nets That Can Cause Strangulation
Check the spacing between guard rails and on climbing and safety nets to determine if they pose strangulation risks. Gaps should either be less than three inches or greater than nine inches to be safe.
5. Quality and Maintenance of the Equipment
Check the playing equipment for visibly damaged parts. Find out who maintains and repairs your local public playground and report any faulty equipment. Also, keep your child away from the playground until they make the repairs.
6. Cleanliness of the Playground and the Vicinity
The playing area should be free from garbage and animal droppings. There should be protective barriers to keep animals out at night and no standing water in the vicinity.
7. Lead Paint or Arsenic in Wood
Poisonous chemicals like lead and arsenic may be present in older equipment. So, check to see if they have done any testing for lead exposure, especially if you observe peeling paint. Avoid such playgrounds, or at least ensure your child doesn’t eat there if there is no other option.
8. Using Equipment Safely
Remember, adult supervision is necessary, even on safe playground equipment. Young children should use it as intended and be aware of safe and unsafe practices for all of them. Intervene if they become too adventurous, or they may get hurt.
Most public playgrounds are clean and safe. Still, you should always inspect the playground carefully before your child starts playing. Make sure your kids are safe when they play, as well as all the kids in the neighborhood by reporting unsafe equipment.