A playground is an ideal place for your child to get the benefits of outdoor play. However, you also want to be sure that the playground your child uses is safe. Here are some considerations when looking for a safe playground for your child.
- Age-appropriate areas. Children younger than five years old should have a separate play area, as they aren’t as active and resilient as older children. Look for a playground that has a separate play area for younger children. Many playgrounds have signage to help you find the correct area.
- Safe surfaces. A good playground should have surfaces that will absorb impacts and make walking, running, and jumping easier on your child. Look for surfaces such as wood chips, sand, shredded rubber, and mulch. Grass and dirt may seem impact-absorbing, but can be just as unsafe as asphalt or concrete. Ensure also that there are no tripping hazards such as tree branches or rocks.
- Stability of equipment. Ensure that nothing is loose or otherwise insecurely fastened to the ground or other equipment. Handrails and barriers should be present and secure as well.
- Children make messes in the natural course of play, but avoid playgrounds that have garbage, animal droppings, glass, or other hazardous materials on and around the equipment.
- Proper swings. Look for swings that are not made from wood or metal. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that babies with good head control and who can sit up with support try bucket-style swings. They also recommend that the swing surfacing, in the back and front, extends twice the height of the suspending bar.
- Spacing of equipment. Equipment with moving parts, such as swings and seesaws, should be a safe distance away from other equipment.
- No risk of falls or entrapment. Openings in nets, bars, or rails can pose a risk for falls or your child becoming trapped. According to the National Safety Council, “openings between rails, bars, rungs and even ropes of cargo nets should be less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches.”
As a parent or guardian, you know your child best. Always ensure that they can manage the playground equipment on their own, and supervise them at all times. With these safety tips, you and your child can both relax and have fun at the playground.