Welcome, parents, to the beginning of summer – the unofficial start of the playground season. The time of year when parents can finally pry their little one away from the television and iDevices and thrust them outdoors to engage in enriching experiences unattainable in the living room.
Although playground activity provides a crucial opportunity for children to improve physical coordination, social capabilities and brain development, there is a correlation between playground activity and pediatric injuries:
- Every year, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries.
- More than one-third of all playground injuries are severe, resulting in fractures, concussions and dislocations.
- Falls to the ground are a contributing factor in 79% of all injuries.
- Most injuries are associated with climbing equipment, swings and slides.
There are safety strategies parents can exercise to ensure that their child remains safe at the playground:
- Refrain from riding down slides with your child. Leg fractures typically occur when the child’s foot gets stuck on the slide while the parent continues to slide downward.
- Instead of playgrounds with hard surfaces, choose ones with softer surfaces, such as wood chips, mulch, shredded tires or sand.
- If your child is pre-schooled age, make sure that his or her play area is separate from older children’s play area.
- Periodically inspect playground equipment and recommend maintenance when necessary.
Playgrounds are an important maturation mechanism for children. Unlike sedentary activities like video games and television, playgrounds encourage physical development and relationship-building skills. However, parents must be cognizant of the safety risks of playground activity and take steps to ensure their child’s safety. Doing so will make for an active, fun summer for parents and children alike.