Keeping Play Safe
Learning to play is a vital part of a child’s life. It is a time for the child to learn physical, mental and social skills that develop during all times of childhood. However, while accidents do happen, they can be greatly reduced with the right safety preparation. Ensure that your child has a great time while they remain safe with the following tips:
- The playground should have safety-tested mats or loose-fill materials (shredded rubber, sand, wood chips, or bark) maintained to a depth of at least 9 inches (6 inches for shredded rubber). The protective surface should be installed at least 6 feet (more for swings and slides) in all directions from the equipment.
- Equipment should be carefully maintained. Open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends can be hazardous.
- Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
- Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
- Never attach—or allow children to attach—ropes, jump ropes, leashes, or similar items to play equipment; children can strangle on these. If you see something tied to the playground, remove it or call the playground operator to remove it.
- Make sure your children remove helmets and anything looped around their necks.
- Metal, rubber and plastic products can get very hot in direct sun.
- Make sure slides are cool to prevent children’s legs from getting burned.
- Do not allow children to play barefoot on the playground.
- Parents should supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.
- Parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use a home trampoline because of the risk of serious injury even when supervised.
- Surrounding trampoline netting offers a false sense of security and does not prevent many trampoline-related injuries.
- If children are jumping on a trampoline, they should be supervised by a responsible adult, and only one child should be on the trampoline at a time; 75% of trampoline injuries occur when more than one person is jumping at a time.
- A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.
- Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many injuries happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Children learn best by observing you. Set the example: Whenever you ride, put on your helmet.
- When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
- A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head and covers the forehead, not tipped forward or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened with about 2 fingers able to fit between chin and strap. The helmet should be snug on the head, but not overly tight. Skin should move with the helmet when moved side to side. If needed, the helmet’s sizing pads can help improve the fit.
- Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike without training wheels until he or she is ready. Consider the child’s coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes. Consider a balance bike with no pedals for young children to learn riding skills.
- Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitted bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new one. Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
SKATEBOARD, SCOOTER, IN-LINE SKATING AND HEELYS SAFETY
- All skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear protective gear; helmets are particularly important for preventing and minimizing head injuries. Riders should wear helmets that meet ASTM or other approved safety standards, and that are specifically designed to reduce the effects of skating hazards.
- Communities should continue to develop skateboard parks, which are more likely to be monitored for safety than ramps and jumps constructed by children at home.
- While in-line skating or using Heelys, only skate on designated paths or rinks and not in the street.
- Most injuries occur due to falls. Inexperienced riders should only ride as fast as they can comfortably slow down, and they should practice falling on grass or other soft surfaces. Before riding, skateboarders should survey the riding terrain for obstacles such as potholes, rocks, or any debris. Protective wrist, elbow and kneepads should be worn.
- Children should never ride skateboards or scooters in or near moving traffic.
- Riders should never skate alone. Children under the age of eight should be closely supervised at all times.
With these simple actions, your child can be safe while they play and teach others too. In the event of an accident or your child has difficulty moving or pain, they can benefit greatly from pediatric physical therapy. Physical therapy helps to improve range of motion, pain, physical abilities and strength after an injury, disease or illness. If your child has suffered a sprain, fracture or injury, consult with your pediatrician about having physical therapy for optimum recovery. Not only can physical therapy speed up recovery, it can prevent long-term joint or muscle injury. Call us today to learn more or come in for a free pediatric consultation.
Credit: American Pediatric Association