Playgrounds are fun places where children can run free, swing, slide and make friends.
But they’re also where they fall, and get bumps and scrapes.
Keep these outdoor safety tips in mind when you bring Junior out to play.
1. Parental guidance advised
They may be savvy enough to programme your iPhone, but children below 12 still need adult supervision. That’s because they may not anticipate dangerous situations on their own.
These could come in the form of malfunctioning equipment or an older child testing his limits. They may also find it difficult to gauge distances and depths.
It may seem like common sense but, sometimes, adults can be distracted by conversations with friends, leaving their little ones alone in the play area – especially an overcrowded one, which can pose dangers.
2. Play according to age
According to Dr Arif Tyebally, associate consultant of emergency medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, playgrounds are built to cater for kids of different ages. “It is important that parents allow their children to use only play equipment appropriate for their age,” says Dr Tyebally.
“Larger playgrounds have different sections that are clearly demarcated, and have signs that clearly state what ages the equipment caters for.”
Swings and see-saws for younger children may have special seats or backrests to protect them from falling, while slides are shorter, to prevent falls.
He adds: “Children are generally ready to use the equipment when they can use it on their own, and this includes being able to sit still, overcoming the fear of the play equipment and climbing up the ladder independently in the case of the slide.”
3. Monkey see, monkey don’t
If you are with a young child, avoid the monkey bars.
Dr Tyebally feels that this is the most dangerous equipment – it causes more than half the number of playground injuries in children, including serious ones like upper limb fractures, which may sometimes require surgery.
Younger children love imitating older ones, and this “monkey see, monkey do” approach could literally cause accidents to happen.
4. Test it out
Check the surface under the equipment – it is one of the most important factors in lessening injuries and the severity of them.
The surface should be thick and firm to absorb shock and cushion a child’s fall, particularly one from equipment.
Stay away from playgrounds on concrete or gravel, especially if your child is not a stable walker yet.
By Young Parents, April 2016
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