August 2, 2002
Parents, educators urged to think first about playground safety
By Jim Albritton
Health and Research News Service
JACKSON, Miss.—As children begin to return to school, Methodist Rehabilitation Center is urging parents and educators to think first about playground safety.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 200,000 children will be injured this year in American playgrounds.
“Because many playgrounds are potentially unsafe, adults need to be more involved in playground supervision, ” said Dr. Rahul Vohra, medical director at Methodist Rehab. “All playgrounds need to be checked for hazards.”
Lauren Fairburn, director of Think First, Methodist Rehab’s statewide injury prevention program, says that even though most playground injuries occur on public playgrounds, a significant number happen at home.
“Seventy percent of playground injuries are the result of falls,” said Fairburn. “That is why it is so important to have a shock absorbing surface like pea gravel or sand in the playground area.”
Dr. Vohra says that fractures, dislocations and concussions are the most common types of serious injuries resulting from playground falls and collisions.
The Think First team encourages schools and parents to:
- Always provide playground supervision.
- Make sure children do not wear clothing with loose strings.
- Inspect the playground area for sticks, glass and other potential hazards.
- Only allow children to play on age-appropriate equipment.
- Look for exposed concrete footings or rocks that could trip children.
- Inspect surface areas to insure adequate cushioning for falls.
- Inspect all equipment for loose screws, bolts, protruding nails or rusted surfaces and make sure all equipment is secured in the ground and sturdy.
- Guardrails should surround all elevated platforms and should be at least 29 inches high for preschool-age children and 38 inches high for school-age children.
“Playground equipment for children two to five years old should be low to the ground, have areas for crawling and shorter slides,” said Fairburn. “Older children ages six to 12 years old have more strength and are able to manipulate horizontal bars, see saws and taller slides.”
Fairburn says that well maintained and safe playgrounds are a wonderful place for children to explore and learn.
“Playgrounds can aid in positive emotional development when used appropriately,” said Fairburn. “Children learn how to interact socially with other children and playgrounds help them develop creativity and problem solving techniques.”
For more information:
Play it safe to prevent injuries | The Clarion-Ledger