Just because playgrounds are designed for kids doesn't mean they are injury-proof. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200,000 children go to the emergency department for a playground-related injury each year. These injuries can include fractures as well as traumatic brain injuries such as concussion.
"The most important safety precaution parents can take is always supervising their child at a playground," says Marisa Abbe, Ph.D., CPSTI, Manager of Injury Prevention at Children's Health℠. "While we cannot prevent every injury from occurring, an attentive parent can help keep their child safer."
Follow these five safety rules when taking your child to the playground:
- Choose the right play equipment for your child's age and skills.
- If possible, choose playgrounds with surfaces made from wood chips or shredded rubber to lessen risk of injury.
- Dress your child properly for the playground – no necklaces, scarves, purses or clothing that could get caught around their neck or pose a hazard.
- Use play equipment properly. Never climb up slides (use the ladder or stairs instead), and never jump from the swings or the top of the slide.
- Monkey bars cause half of all serious playground falls. Supervise your child closely while they play and assist them if they are still learning.
It's also a good idea to teach your child to touch equipment before climbing or playing on it, as the strong Texas sun can quickly heat up surfaces. Always apply sunscreen and bring water to the playground to make sure your child stays hydrated.
As far as the popular advice circulating that cautions mothers against holding their child while riding down the slide? Dr. Abbe advises it's a good one to follow. “If your child isn’t big enough to ride down the slide themselves, don’t hold them on it. Rather, find more age-appropriate options for fun.”
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