I've always been a stickler for the rules. So its no surprise that I got frustrated when the mommy blogs here, here and here were discussing playground etiquette this past month. And let me save you some time, if you don't feel like clicking and reading. They would think I am crazy and would be annoyed that I teach my children the rules of the playground and require them to follow them while we are visiting the playground. And yes, I am that parent that gets passive aggressive about the slide. "Honey, I know you can't go down the slide right now because someone is not using it right! Just be patient and wait for them to come up the slide and then you can go down!" (In my loud, fake nice voice)
But what can I say, besides being a stickler for the rules, I also married into a commercial playground company. No different, than the spouse of a determatologist being over the top about applying sunscreen, right?. Anyway, with recent news about how injuries are on the rise even though playgrounds and safety surfacing are safer and better than ever before, it made me feel like a refresher in playground safety was maybe due. Besides the basics of following the signage with appropriate age ranges that are found at the playground and NOT going UP the slide, here is some helpful guidance from the National Safety Council.
"Nearly 80 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls. Some of the top equipment associated with injuries are climbers, swings, slides and overhead ladders, according to the National Program for Playground Safety.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has come up with playground hazards you should watch out for when taking your kids to the park.
- Improper protective surfaces: Fall surfaces should be made of wood chips, mulch, wood fibers, sand, pea gravel, shredded tires or rubber mats andshould be at least 12 inches deep.
- Inadequate use zone: The area under and around play equipment where a child might fall should be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions.
- Protrusion hazards: Beware of hardware that is capable of impaling or cutting a child (bolts, hooks, rungs, etc.), or catching strings or items of clothing. Children should never wear drawstring hoodies at the playground.
- Head entrapment hazards: There should be no openings that measure between 3 ½ and 9 inches.
- Overcrowded play area: Swings should be set far enough away from other equipment that children won't be hit by a moving swing.
- Trip hazards, like rocks or tree stumps
- Lack of supervision: Children under age 4 shouldn't play on climbing equipment or horizontal ladders.
- Age inappropriate activities: Spring-loaded seesaws are best for young children. Avoid adjustable seesaws with chains because children can crush their hands under the chains. A traditional seesaw should not hit the ground. "Whirls" or "roundabouts" are best for school-age children.
- Lack of maintenance: Metal or wooden swing seats should be replaced with soft seats, and equipment should not be split or splintered.
- Sharp edges on equipment
- Platforms with no guardrails
- Equipment not recommended for public playgrounds: One example is monkey bars. The number of injuries caused by monkey bars is so significant many experts recommend they be removed from all playgrounds.
If your playground is unsafe, report the problem to the owner or park district. And remember, there is no substitute for parental supervision, especially for young children." (The National Safety Council)