Jefferson Elementary School

Playground Safety

Playground Safety

Presented by Scott Dohnal and Angela Ferrentino

 

Any recreational activity can result in personal injuries, and playgrounds are no different.  However, the frequency and severity can be reduced through maintenance and supervision of playgrounds.

 

Playground Injury overview:

61 million US children through the age of 14

There are over 220,000 estimated playground equipment related injuries annually

76% on public playgrounds

24% on Residential playgrounds

 

Playground injury overview

79% are caused by FALLS

  • 68% FALLS TO SURFACE
  • 10% FALLS TO OTHER PARTS OF EQUIPTMENT
  • 1% FALLS UNKNOWN

Falls are the most common cause of injury on public playgrounds.

11% are caused by impact

  • 8% impact with stationary equipment
  • 3% impact with moving equipment
  • 10% are miscellaneous causes.

Major causes of death and seriously debilitating Injury

  • #1 cause is entanglement…of clothing, strings or ropes
  • #2 cause is falls… onto hard underlying surfaces
  • #3 Head and neck entrapments…in equipment openings
  • #4 Impact…by tipping or loose equipment, or moving swings

Factors that contribute to Public Playground injuries

  • Improper use/poor supervision
  • Poor Maintenance
  • Inappropriate design
  • Installation Errors
  • Site Planning issues

 

Teaching Kids about Playground Safety

 

Safe playground equipment and adult supervision are extremely important, but it's only half of the equation: Kids must know how to be safe and act responsibly at the playground.

Teach your kids to:

  • Never push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, seesaws, swings, and other equipment.
  • Use equipment properly — slide feet first, don't climb outside guardrails, no standing on swings, etc.
  • Always check to make sure no other kids are in the way if they're going to jump off equipment or slide, and land on both feet with their knees slightly bent.
  • Leave bikes, backpacks, and bags away from the equipment and the play area so that no one trips over them.
  • Always wear a helmet while bike riding, but take it off while on playground equipment.
  • Never use playground equipment that's wet because moisture makes the surfaces slippery.
  • Check playground equipment in the summertime. It can become uncomfortably or even dangerously hot, especially metal slides, handrails, and steps. So use good judgment — if the equipment feels hot to the touch, it's probably not safe or fun to play on. Contact burns can occur within seconds.
  • Wear clothes that do not have drawstrings or cords. Drawstrings, purses, and necklaces could get caught on equipment and accidentally strangle a child.
  • Wear sunscreen when playing outside even on cloudy days to protect against sunburn.

 

Slide Safety

Slides are safe if kids are careful when using them. Guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Children should take one step at a time and hold onto the handrail when climbing the ladder to the top of the slide. They should not climb up the slide itself to get to the top.
  • Kids should always slide down feet first and sitting up, never head first on their back or stomach.
  • Only one child should be on the slide platform at a time, and kids shouldn't slide down in groups.
  • Kids should always check that the bottom of the slide is clear before sliding down. When they reach the bottom, they should get off and move away from the end of the slide so it's clear for other kids to slide down.

 

Climbing Equipment Safety

 

Climbing equipment comes in many shapes and sizes — including rock climbing walls, arches, and vertical and horizontal ladders. It's generally more challenging for kids than other kinds of playground equipment.

  • Be sure your kids are aware of a safe way down in case they can't complete the climb. The highest rates of injuries on public playgrounds are associated with climbing equipment, which is dangerous if not designed or used properly. Adult supervision is especially important for younger kids.
  • Climbing equipment can be used safely if kids are taught to use both hands and to stay well behind the person in front of them and beware of swinging feet. When they drop from the bars, kids should be able to jump down without hitting the equipment on the way down. Remind kids to have their knees bent and land on both feet.
  • Too many kids on the equipment at one time can be dangerous. Everyone should start on the same side of the equipment and move across it in the same direction.
  • When climbing down, kids should watch for those climbing up; they should never race across or try to reach for bars that are too far ahead.
  • Children younger than age 5 may not have the upper-body strength necessary for climbing and should only be allowed to climb on age-appropriate equipment. Preschoolers should only climb 5 feet high and school-age kids should only climb 7 feet high.

 

Suggestions:

Add a unit in PE class about playground safety and rules, let the students identify the rules, create buy in and self-policing.

Playground patrol to assist the adult supervision on the playground.