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Playground Safety

Topic Overview

Playgrounds may have hazards that can cause injury. Following some basic safety measures can help your child have fun and play safely.

General checks

  • Make sure there is a soft surface under play equipment, such as sand, wood chips, or rubber matting.
  • Check the surface temperature of play equipment if it is warm outside.
  • Wooden equipment should be smooth and made from all-weather wood. Check surfaces periodically to make sure there is no splintering.
  • Check equipment for loose joints, open chains, exposed bolts, sharp edges, and rust. If the equipment is in a public park, report any problems to the appropriate personnel.

Specific equipment

  • Children younger than age 5 should be closely supervised and play on the equipment separately from older children.
  • Swings should be made from soft and flexible material. Your child should sit in a bucket swing with leg holes until he or she is able to safely sit in the middle of a standard swing. Have your child use both hands. Do not allow more than one child on the same swing. Help your child learn to stay away from swings while others are using them.
  • A teeter-totter (seesaw) should only be used by children age 3 and older. Partners should be close in age and of similar weight. Children younger than 3 do not have the physical coordination to safely use this equipment.
  • Make sure children go single-file up steps to use slides and that they do not climb up the slide's surface. Have your child exit the landing of the slide quickly, so that other children coming down the slide don't fall on your child.
  • Don't let a child younger than 4 use climbing equipment that's taller than he or she is, unless you will watch the child at all times.
  • Trampolines aren't safe for children. Even with constant adult supervision and protective netting, many children are injured on them. It's best to keep your child off trampolines.

Also make sure children are not wearing jewelry, such as necklaces, or clothing with strings attached, such as a hooded sweatshirt, that may get caught in the playground equipment and cause injury.

Other Places To Get Help

Organization

American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
Elk Grove Village, IL  60007-1098
Phone: (847) 434-4000
Fax: (847) 434-8000
Web Address: www.aap.org
 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers a variety of educational materials about parenting, general growth and development, immunizations, safety, disease prevention, and more. AAP guidelines for various conditions and links to other organizations are also available.


References

Other Works Consulted

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Keeping your child safe. In SP Shevlov et al., eds., Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 5th ed., pp. 457–506. New York: Bantam.
  • Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Trampoline safety in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics, 130(4): 774–779.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised November 26, 2012

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