Now that nice weather seems to be here to stay, everyone is anxious to get outside. Area playgrounds are a great place to take your little ones for some long-overdue exercise. However, playground injuries are more common than most of us realize. In 2008 the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that just over 220,000 emergency room visits occurred from children being injured on playgrounds. This actually reflects a small increase from their 1999 estimate of 205,000. Eighty-five percent of playground injuries that required medical attention were due to fractures, contusions (bruises), cuts or sprains.
Here are a few tips to make sure that your fun visit to the playground doesn’t end with a quick trip to your local emergency room or urgent care center. Most of these suggestions are linked to preventing falls. First, it is extremely important to monitor your children’s activities, both using your eyes and your ears. Also, make sure your kids’ activities are appropriate (look for pushing, shoving, and children crowding each other or inappropriately using equipment) and that the equipment being used is age-appropriate. Avoid playgrounds that do not use loose-fill materials like rubber mulch, fine sand, or woodchips/mulch as a groundcover. Finally, to decrease risk of strangulation, make sure kids are not wearing clothing with drawstrings, necklaces, purses or scarves while using equipment.