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Summer Time is Playground Safety Time

Well, it’s that time of year again- school’s are letting out and the lazy, hazy days of summer are finally in sight.

With time to waste, many kids are going to be hitting local playgrounds. While playgrounds offer kids a great opportunity to keep active and socialize, a poorly maintained playground could also be dangerous.

Before you unleash your kids at the local playground, make sure it lives up to your standard of safety. Just remember to play it S.A.F.E.!

S= Supervision

Supervision is a critical component to a child’s safety, especially at playgrounds. By keeping a watchful eye over what the kids are up to, parents or supervising adults can help prevent injuries.

In some cases, children are seriously injured at the playground, but have no adults with them at the time! The National Program for Playground Safety urges parents and adults to follow the ABCs of Supervision- Anticipate preventable problems and hazardous situations. Behavior means being alert and attentive. Despite the type or Context of the play area, whenever children are on the playground, adults should be present.

A= Age-Appropriate Design

Not all play areas are built the same. Different equipment is built for kids of different age groups. Since younger children are less physically developed and adept than their older counterparts, make sure youngsters stick to the structures that are right for them.

Kids between 6-23 months should play in areas that have space to move and explore. Appropriate play areas for this group should provide places to crawl, stand, and walk without the risk of falling.

2-5 year olds should play in areas that include areas to crawl, low platforms with multiple access such as ramps and ladders, ramps with pieces attached for grasping, low tables for sand, water and manipulation of materials; tricycle paths with various textures, flexible spring rockers, sand areas with covers and slides no taller than 4 feet.

Depending on their abilities, kids between 5-12 are able to use the largest equipment on the playground, including the large slides, seesaws and monkey bars. However, parental supervision is still necessary!

F= Fall Surfacing

Kids fall, that’s what they do. That’s why it is so important that your playground be outfitted with a proper fall surface, in order to minimize the risk of serious injuries. Acceptable loose-fill materials are pea gravel, wood chips, sand and shredded rubber. Loose-fill should be at least 12 inches deep. Acceptable synthetic surfaces include rubber tiles, rubber mats and certain synthetic poured surfaces.

Playground surfaces, including the fall surfaces, are often exposed to direct sunlight. That means, depending on the climate where you live, they can reach 100-150 degrees. That much heat can cause serious burn injuries. To prevent injury, kids should always wear shoes and other protective clothing.

E= Equipment Maintenance

Before you let your kids hit the playground, go through and do a visual inspection of the equipment and fall surfacing. Make sure they are in good working order, meaning wooden structures are not splintered or fractured, metal equipment is free from rust and other deterioration and plastic structures should be crack-free. In addition, nothing should appear broken or in disrepair, there should be no large gaps or sharp objects in play equipment and garbage should be removed frequently.

To ensure your child’s utmost safety, print out and follow this NPPS playground safety checklist.

Remember summer time is a fun time, and playgrounds are important places for children as they grow and develop. With a young child, the risk of injury is around every corner, but by empowering yourself with knowledge and following the above safety tips, you and your family will be able to enjoy the best of what summer has to offer!

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