Playground safety

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Before letting a child play at a playground, you should check it out yourself to make sure it's safe. Even if you determine that it is, if there are several children using it, there's always the possibility of injury. The most common playground injury is from a fall, so make sure the surface is relatively soft, especially around equipment. Mulch, shredded bark, and wood chips are preferable to grass and earth, which can be hard, and of course to concrete or asphalt. The area should be clear of broken glass, bottles, cans, and other debris (duh-BREE). The equipment itself should be firmly anchored into the ground, and screws and bolts shouldn't be loose or exposed. In particular, slides should be shaded, especially if they're metal, and be rust-free. Monkey bars should be used only by children older than five, and the surface underneath should be soft to cushion falls. Seesaws should be used by children of approximately the same age or weight, with something placed under the seat, such as a rubber tire, to cushion the impact of hitting the ground. Check swings for frayed ropes or chain-links in which fingers can get caught. Children under five should use only chair swings. Even if they play on equipment in good condition, children can be injured if they don't use it safely, so take the time to go over the proper ways of using it, as well as proper etiquette toward other kids.

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