Now that it has officially warmed up, every week I take my young son and meet a handful of friends, neighbors, or fellow moms and some of their kiddos at a park for a picnic. My friends and I choose a different park each week to mix it up and change the pace a bit. In the past few weeks I’ve been able to discover some of my favorite and least favorite features of a few parks near my house. I’ve also observed several children playing on playground equipment and throughout the park grounds. In doing so, I have come up with a Playground Safety Guide to share some of my tips and observations.
HydrationIt’s easy for me to remember a drink because we’re usually headed to a picnic, so I simply pack it with our lunch. I bring a Gatorade for me, a sippy cup with something sweet like juice for the little guy (this way he drinks more than he would if I put water in it) and my water bottle for the two of us to share! Preventing dehydration is especially important at a place like a park because children are plenty active!
Sun ProtectionSunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, should be worn especially during the hottest times of day and when the sun is the highest (10am-4pm), hats are also a good idea to shield from the sun, as well as finding shady spots to sit.
Hot MetalBe sure to check the temperature of metal slides and other metal features like the chains on swings or buckles on car seats to avoid burns!
What to Wear
Freshly Picked Moccasins are the perfect shoe for outdoor play! Pictured: Freshly Picked Platinum Moccs Shoes! At all times. Stepping on foreign objects, walking on rough bark or other ground materials, slowing self on swings, burning feet, and stubbed toes are all common occasions that make it especially important to wear shoes, at the very least soft-soled ones like Freshly Picked Moccasins. Not to mention dirty black feet when you get home!
What Not to WearHoods, clothing with drawstrings, necklaces, untied shoes, and scarves are all clothing items children should avoid while sliding down and running through playground equipment.
Equipment CheckThis can be a very casual routine as you walk around the park with your kiddos. Check for sharp edges, loose parts, wet equipment, litter, or other hazards that may cause harm to children as they play.
Watch Your SurroundingsTeach your children to pay attention to their surroundings. Children on swings, monkey bars, or coming down slides aren’t necessarily in control and cannot stop easily if someone gets in their way. But collisions and crashes can be easily prevented if kids on the ground are watching where they’re going.
Take ChargeDiscourage any pushing, bullying, using equipment inappropriately, and bad behavior that you may see. Be especially sure to keep your own children in check, and don’t be afraid to involve other parents if necessary.
Age Appropriate ActivitiesA one year old probably shouldn’t go down a fire pole and an eight year old shouldn’t be swinging in a baby swing. You’re an adult, it’s okay to nicely talk to other children about appropriate behavior, and if their parent is in ear shot- even better!
Other Safety ConsiderationsBecause parks come in a variety of settings, it’s important to acknowledge your surroundings and plan accordingly. A few things to keep in mind are keeping children away from the roads and parking lots, wearing helmets if bikes or scooters are involved, and practicing proper water safety if water features are near.
Stranger AwarenessYou can never be too careful when it comes to strangers. Teach your child about strangers; do not allow them to take anything from somebody they don’t know unless they have your permission, and under NO circumstance should they go with a stranger anywhere.
Meeting PlaceLet your child know where you’ll be. It’s comforting to kids of any age to be able to look down and see you on the same bench or under the tree by the stroller and picnic blanket, or still pushing baby sister on the swings. But because staying in the same place isn’t always practical, remind your kiddo of the color of your shirt for easy spotting or let them know it’s okay to call out to you if they cannot see you.
Basically what this entire safety guide boils down to is proper supervision. Many accidents can be avoided, many lessons can be taught, and plenty of fun can be had when you’re involved in your child’s playground experience. But obviously, all the planning and supervision in the world cannot prevent all accidents. Here are some brief playground injury statistics: