It's important that children have fun in the playground, but it can also be a place where they can experience accidents, particularly if there is not sufficient safety padding underneath apparatus.
You can reduce the risk of injury in the playground by keeping a close eye on your children, and encouraging them to use the equipment that's suited to their age group. Some playground equipment is unsuitable for smaller children, therefore even safety padding may not protect a smaller child should they have an accident.
Before allowing your child on to any playground equipment, make sure there is a soft surface under and around the equipment to a depth of 300mm. There are various types of safety padding that can be used to achieve this.
Around 70 per cent of injuries in the playground are caused by falls. Although climbing is fun, children must be encouraged to avoid high drops or seek help from an adult if they wish to attempt them.
Equipment in a playground generally caters to children of all ages, but some equipment is designed for older children. Most children will safely progress to the more challenging equipment as they grow in confidence, but some children will ignore this and have a go anyway.
To help make landings safer, it's important to check the ground beneath the equipment is made of loose filled materials such as mulch or sand. Harder materials could cause severe injury.
To prevent injuries, remind your child to be aware of other children playing, particularly if they are near to swings or other moving pieces of equipment.
Protecting your child
Safety padding is the obvious protection for playground equipment, but there are also many ways you as a parent can protect your child from the dangers of playground apparatus. Below, we've listed a few suggestions of ways to help protect your child from injury in the playground:
Supervise - your children should be supervised at all times. This way, you can limit their choice of equipment and make sure they are using the apparatus that is best suited to their age and abilities.
Encourage - your children to use playground equipment creatively and show children how to have fun in a sensible way. Instead of berating a child for mishandling playground equipment, show them how to use it properly.
Set an example - try to steer children away from competing in the playground and encourage them to focus on socialising with other children, having fun on the equipment and group participation.
Trampolines have become a popular form of exercise for children. Trampolines are great for children's balance, co-ordination and fitness, but are also well known for causing multiple injuries to children such as cuts, sprains, and sometimes even serious fractures. To minimise the risk of injury, always supervise children whilst they are playing on a trampoline.
Trampolines must be regularly checked to ensure they don't have holes, the springs are intact and securely fastened and the frames are not bent. Make sure the area surrounding the trampoline is free from hazards such as fences or garden furniture and that the space overhead is clear from trees.
Always use safety padding on the frames of trampolines and make sure you cover the springs with safety mats. Make sure that the trampoline you are purchasing meets European standards.
Some of the recommended safety padding for playground equipment includes mulch, river sand and other materials such as rubber safety mats which can be placed underneath the play equipment to a depth of 300mm. Safety padding can offer a softer landing and/or cushion a fall.
Below is a list of safety suggestions for public or private playground areas that should be adhered to:
Secure - any raised platforms should be made secure with a guard or handrail
Cover - any hooks, nails or bolts should be covered
Services - rubber surfaces provide better grip than metal or wood
Check - equipment for signs of wear and tear
If you're in a public playground and you notice equipment is broken or looks dangerous, report it straight away to your local council so they are aware of the issue.