Getting outside and staying active during the summer is incredibly important for kids. Playgrounds are a great place for kids to combine making friends with some much needed exercise. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most common places for injury. Each year approximately 200,000 kids under the age of 14 will visit the emergency department because of an injury that occurred on a playground. And about 80% of these injuries will occur from a fall.
However, the benefits of the playground far outweigh the drawbacks, especially if parents take a few extra precautions before heading to the park. David Roberts, MD, Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at the NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute, shares some easy ways to make the playground safer for kids this summer and all year round:
Supervise, supervise! Go to the park as a family. While there, you can make sure everyone is being safe by supervising play and have a little fun too! Getting outside and staying active is just as important for parents.
Slides are for kids only. Well-meaning parents might think it’s safer to go down the slide with toddlers on your lap; unfortunately, this is a common source of fractures in young children. When little ones go down the slide alone, they only have their own body weight to contend with. If they go down the slide with a parent and catch their foot on the side, the full force of the parent’s weight is behind them now too. So one at a time down the slide!
Dress appropriately. This doesn’t just mean dressing appropriately for the weather. Avoid drawstrings and loose clothing that could catch on playground equipment and cause falls or other injuries. And always make sure shoes laces are tied.
Make sure playgrounds are safe and age-appropriate. Not all playgrounds are created equal. Many modern playgrounds are designed to have lower height equipment and softer surfaces beneath, like mulch or rubber padding, which absorb the impact of falls. Try to keep outdoor playtime to these safer spaces. Also look for playgrounds that have separate equipment for older and younger children.
Does your family spend time at the playground in the summer?