Ask the Doctor
Dr. Brian McMahon, MD
Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at
Richmond University Medical Center
Safety on the Playground
Playgrounds are perfect places to exercise your child’s mind and body. Many parents forget that there are a few precautions that can help keep their children safe on the playground.
The most common injury is a fall, accounting for more than 40% of playground accidents. Many of these injuries occur on monkey bars, swings, and slides.
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 most often need emergency care for playground injuries. Besides the occasional scrape or bruise, more serious injuries frequently include fractures, concussions, and sprains. Burns are another potential playground risk. Even though many slides and other equipment are no longer made of metal, plastic and rubber surfaces can still become too hot for a child’s delicate skin.
Home playgrounds may be especially hazardous. We tend to let our guard down at home, perhaps multitasking while children play in the backyard, but homeowners may not always follow proper playground construction, including installing soft landing surfaces.
Before heading out for some playtime in this great July weather, parents should consider the following tips:
• Always inspect a playground before allowing your child to play. Look for any sharp edges, tripping hazards, or loose hand grips.
• Choose a playground with a soft landing surface surrounding it. Good ground cover choices include mulch, wood chips, and pea gravel.
• Check the temperature of all equipment. Touch it to make sure it is not too hot for your child’s skin.
• Dress your child appropriately. Shoes are a must. To avoid snags, don’t let your child wear jewelry or clothing with drawstrings or hoods.
• Teach your child proper playground etiquette. For instance, always slide down feet first. Never share the slide with another child. And always use handrails.
• Watch your child at all times.