Visits to the playground are a great way for kids to get exercise, burn energy and develop cognitive skills. But keeping the play area safe can be challenging for parents, teachers and daycare providers. Proper surfacing and equipment, along with a good understanding of safety standards, can make the playground a fun and safe environment for kids.
Playgrounds are meant for kids to exercise their bodies, work on motor skills and learn social and emotional skills. However, playgrounds often lack adequate supervision to prevent injuries. This can discourage kids from going outside to play and has long term health consequences. Injuries on playgrounds most commonly occur from falling from equipment like monkey bars, swings and slides. Children of preschool age and primary school age are most at risk. They don’t have the physical coordination or judgment to assess whether jumping off a set of monkey bars is a safe idea.
The most important part of any 안전놀이터 is the adult supervision that monitors it. Supervisors should receive training on proper playground safety, first aid and injury prevention. Additionally, supervisors should have a way to communicate with one another while on the playground in case a problem arises. Many schools purchase walkie-talkies or assign a designated cell phone for this purpose. In addition, supervisors should establish surveillance zones to limit the amount of area they need to watch at once.
Each year, playground accidents send more than 200,000 children to the emergency room. The best way to prevent these incidents is to ensure that kids play on equipment that fits their physical abilities and age range. For infants and toddlers, it's important to choose equipment with a low fall height to prevent head trauma from falling. They also require safety surfacing that's soft and offers superior shock absorption. The next age range, preschoolers, is an important one to target because of their physical capabilities and social skills. Equipment should include climbing structures, crawl tunnels, and small structures to promote creative play.
While kids ages 5-12 can use most any piece of equipment, it's important to offer them challenges that are appropriate for their level of skill and strength. This is also an age when they are most likely to embrace their inner daredevils, so be sure to choose equipment with a high safety rating and watch out for their Elvel Knievel stunts!
The number one safety measure playgrounds should have is shock-absorbing surfaces that cushion kids who fall. The most common injuries at playgrounds are head traumas that result from falling. Industry safety guidelines and good health practices recommend that a safety surface be placed under and around equipment to lessen the chances of life-threatening falls. Surface options include engineered wood fiber, sand, artificial turf or rubber mulch. Regardless of what type is used, it should be at the recommended depth to minimize serious injuries.
Poured in place, or PIP rubber is a popular safety surface. It consists of a layer of shock-absorbing rubber buffings over an EPDM base that can be poured in any color to match the playground’s aesthetic. It is also one of the most durable and longest-lasting options. For a more natural look, turf is another excellent choice, and it does not require mowing or watering. It is, however, one of the most expensive choices.
While playgrounds have come a long way in terms of equipment and safety specifications, there is an inherent risk that kids will still get hurt on the playground. Daycares, schools and other community groups can reduce these risks by installing playground borders made of impact-absorbent material like rubber. Entanglement is a major cause of playground injuries that can lead to strangulation or even death. It occurs when a child’s clothing or something around their neck becomes caught in a component of playground equipment. This includes drawstrings on hoods, which can easily become entangled on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard.
Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) use a variety of tools to test for entanglement hazards including the Head Injury Criteria, which is a time-distance measurement of deceleration of the head on an impact surface. A CPSI also uses projection gauges to check for protrusions on playground equipment that could be dangerous. For example, openings on rails, bars and rungs should not be less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches to prevent heads from becoming entrapped in them.
Playgrounds should encourage children to take risks in a healthy way. But this does not mean that safety should be compromised. Safe surfacing is the single most important factor in reducing playground injuries. Look for soft surfaces like wood mulch, sand, or shredded tires instead of hard materials such as asphalt and concrete.