By DR. NATALIE LANE, MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT AT CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL OF GEORGIA AND SAFE KIDS GREATER AUGUSTA
Spring has sprung, bringing outdoor adventure and more trips to the playground for children.
Unfortunately, more than 200,000 children age 14 and under are treated in emergency rooms across the nation for playground-related injuries, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, and children in the 5 to 9 age range have the highest rates of playground injuries.
“Play is an important part of your child’s physical, social, intellectual and emotional development, but we must make sure that our children are playing in a safe environment,” said Dr. Natalie Lane, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital of Georgia and its Safe Kids Greater Augusta program. “As long as the equipment is checked regularly, proper supervision is provided, and the rules are enforced, the playground can be fun and safe for your child.”
Here are 10 recommendations from pediatric experts to help keep children safe on the playground:
- Play only with adult supervision. Children should not be on a playground without an adult supervisor.
- Choose the Right Play Area Based on Your Child’s Age. Ensure that children use age-appropriate playground equipment. Separate play areas for bigger kids and children under 5 should be available and maintained.
- Keep off of unsafe equipment. Teach kids to play only on dry equipment. Wet surfaces promote falls. Children shouldn’t play on broken equipment, but instead should report faulty equipment immediately.
- Dress for play. Do not wear necklaces or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. Likewise, it is unsafe to wear I-pods, MP3 players and other electronic devices accompanied by cords. Teach your children to wear the proper shoes at all times – sneakers are best – and never allow them to go barefoot on the playground.
- Take turns. Children should take turns to avoid collisions with one another. Also, teach older children to watch out for smaller kids. Everyone should start on the same side of the equipment and move in the same direction. Discourage pushing and horseplay.
- Climb with care. Children should use both hands when they climb and climb slowly. Warn children not to climb over guardrails and to hold onto handrails when climbing. Climbing equipment comes in many shapes and sizes, so be sure your child is aware of a safe way down in case he or she can’t complete the climb. Discourage kids from jumping off equipment to exit.
- Slide and swing properly. Remind kids to slide feet first and one at a time. Keep kids from climbing up the front of a slide or walking directly in front of the bottom of a slide. Kids should sit down while swinging and come to a stop before exiting. Keep them from walking in front of or behind someone who is swinging.
- Be aware of other dangers. Encourage children to keep their playground clean by picking up trash or debris that could be a tripping hazard. Have them avoid touching metal equipment surfaces on hot days.
- Report all injuries. Encourage kids to report an injury immediately to their playground supervisor, teacher or nearest adult.
- Wash up after play. Encourage children to wash their hands with soap and water after playing outside to remove dirt and fight germs.
Safe Kids Greater Augusta, led by Children’s Hospital of Georgia, works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children ages 1 to 14. Safe Kids Greater Augusta is a member of the Safe Kids USA network. To find out more about local Safe Kids programs, call 706-721-7606, or visit grhealth.org/safekids.
This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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