National Playground Safety Week is a time to focus on the safety of children’s outdoor play environments. NPPS has three goals: to focus on children’s outdoor play areas, to teach kids how to play safely, and to thank adults who work to make and keep playgrounds safe. The National Program for Playground Safety asks families to check the playgrounds where they play and alert owners or authorities to any problems.
Remember the acronym “SAFE”:
S.A.F.E. – Supervision, Age-Appropriate, Fall Surface, and Equipment Maintenance
Sources: Family Fitness
“S” is for Supervision. Always supervise your child at the playground, watching for potential hazards. “S” is also for strings and ropes, which should not be present. Strings (such as drawstrings on clothing) or ropes used for play can cause accidental strangulation if caught on equipment.
“A” is for Age-appropriate. Younger children (ages 2-5) should have their own equipment in an area separate from equipment designed for school-age children (ages 5-12).
“F” is for Falls. Playground surfaces should be designed to cushion children when they fall. Playground equipment should not be placed on concrete, asphalt, grass, packed dirt or rocks. According to NPPS, acceptable surfaces include: hardwood fiber/mulch, pea gravel, sand or synthetic materials such as poured-in-place rubber mats or tiles.
“E” is for Equipment. Play equipment should be anchored safely in the ground, and all pieces should be in good working order, without protruding bolts, exposed footings, partially opened S-hooks or other hazards.
Here are a few tips from Rainbow Play Systems:
Be sure to educate all children who use this playground and all adult supervisors about the rules for safe use that are contained in this manual. Before allowing children to play on this equipment for the first time, carefully review the rules for safe play with them. Observing the following statements and warnings reduces the likelihood of a serious or fatal injury.
1.) IT IS RECOMMENDED that no more than a certain number of children, not exceeding a certain combined weight, play on the system at one time. This product is recommended for children of a certain age. The specific information for number of children, weight and age varies from swing set to swing set. Please refer to the instruction manual for specific details.
2.) Close Adult SUPERVISION is required for all ages.
3.) WARN CHILDREN TO AVOID playing or walking to close to, in front of, or behind, or between moving equipment.
4.) WARN CHILDREN NOT TO twist swing chains or ropes, or to loop them over the top support bar since this may reduce the strength of the chain or rope.
5.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN NOT TO swing empty seats, trapeze, bar, gliders, buoy balls or tire swings.
6.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN to always sit, never stand or kneel, in the center of the swing seat with their full weight.
7.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN NOT TO use any part of the play system in a manner other than what it is intended.
8.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN NOT TO get off equipment while it is in motion.
9.) DRESS CHILDREN APPROPRIATELY. CHILDREN SHOULD NOT wear scarves, hats with straps, helmets, jackets with draw strings, hooded jackets, poorly fitting shoes, or any other loose fitting clothing that is potentially hazardous while using equipment.
10.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN NOT TO play on the equipment if it is wet. Potentially slippery surfaces may cause a hazard.
11.) VERIFY all suspended items such as ropes and chains are secure at both ends.
12.) VERIFY all suspended items such as climbing ropes are tight so they cannot be looped back on themselves.
13.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN NOT TO attach items to the play system not specifically intended for use with the play equipment. Items such as, but not limited to, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes, cables and chain may pose a strangulation hazard.
14.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN TO REMOVE any bike or other sports helmets before playing on the play equipment, as they may pose a possible hanging hazard. Children must be dressed appropriately.
15.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN there may only be one person on a swing at a time with a maximum weight of 150 pounds per swing.
16.) VERIFY there are no gaps between the slide bed way and the slide screws.
17.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN to always go down slides feet first. Never slide head first.
18.) INSTRUCT CHILDREN TO NEVER climb, crawl, or walk on items not intended for such use. Such types of play on top of Monkey Bars, Fort Roof, and Swing Beams greatly increase the risk of a serious or fatal fall.