Does your child know where and where not to play? The playground that he goes in, does it have proper playground signs to guide? Is he safe from the traffic near the playground?
Time and again, playgrounds have continued to be the most favorite hang-out places for children - be it at home, school or in the community. Playgrounds draw out elevated feelings of fun, friendship and pure joy. With the onset of modern play equipments and busy lifestyles, playgrounds have also become major hot spots of potential accidents. They are breeding grounds for numerous safety hazards, if not dealt with regulations and extreme caution. Due to lack of experience and knowledge concerning their own safety, children are most vulnerable to accidents, especially in playgrounds. The risk level of accidents when it comes to children is always high. Given their tendency to fall in danger, the need to protect the playground environment takes high precedence.
Some common playground risks include -
1. Accidents occurring while play like skateboarding, climbing, on swings, see-saws etc
2. Exposure to toxic substance, animals and other waste.
3. Unauthorized vehicles and unsafe driving.
4. Bullying and contact with strangers.
Common Playground Hazards:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) notes some distressing figures from 2001-2008. Annually 200,000 estimated emergency room injuries for children are attributed to playground hazards. Equipment-related accidents contribute significantly to playground hazards with 23% injuries due to tip over, design, assembly and breakage. Falls, with 44% injuries, tops the chart as the No.1 playground accident. Other common hazard patterns include entrapment and collision with stationary equipment or other children. Deaths resulting from playgrounds is a frightening issue, stemming from falls; entanglement of clothes, leashes or ropes; and structural failure of equipment. Strangulation is the most deadly, accounting to more than 50% of the deaths.
Common Playground Injuries:
CDC reports “About 45% of playground-related injuries are severe–fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations (Tinsworth 2001).” Other common and day-to-day playground injuries include lacerations, contusions, abrasions, strains and sprains. Children from age group of 5 to 9 pay a visit to the emergency room more often than any other, most of the times in school playgrounds. Most accidents happen on one of these – Climbers (53%), Swings (19%) and Slides (17%).
What is the Reason?
While people want to do what is best for their children, it is impossible to completely prevent unfortunate accidents in playgrounds. Let’s face it - they are children. However, years of research and common sense dictate that many unwanted safety hiccups in playgrounds can be avoided with vigilance, supervision and following playground safety regulations. Playground signs
are the easiest way to exercise regulations.
Lack of supervision is associated with approximately 40 percent of playground injuries. While children are oblivious of the dangers lurking around them, adults are cautious about each step. They can continually point out to children the correct manner of playing and using the play equipments. This guidance gradually instills safe play habits in the child. Adult supervision is also necessary to carry out first-aid procedures in case of need, bringing down the gravity of the situation.
Complacence regarding installation and maintenance of play equipment is another major cause of accidents. A Study by CPSC found that home playgrounds lack proper surfacing greatly in comparison to public playgrounds. Improper surfacing triggers the top cause of playground injuries – falling. 75% of all fall related deaths include head injuries which make proper surfacing a relevant concern. Even a slight negligence like a shaky screw, on the part of playground authorities in schools or homes can cause a massive safety issue for children.
One overlooked yet prominent cause for playground accidents is the fact that even adults i.e. parents, teachers and caretakers are not aware of the prescribed safety norms. Specifically, they are not aware of how a child should or should not play on the particular equipment. Often it happens that a 2-5 year old child is playing in 6-9 year play zone which can be highly dangerous due to the lack of advanced motor skills required. Every supervisor needs to be educated or informed regarding playground safety and equipment. Installing playground signs with specific information will help deal with such issues.
The CPSC playground safety handbook states that playground signs or labels in the play area or on the equipment should give some guidance to supervisors as to the age appropriateness of the equipment. Training in schools and proper playground signs next to every zone and piece of equipment to guide about safety rules will go a long way in ensuring child safety. Playground signs also help in regulating traffic and reckless driving, saving children from road side accidents near play areas.
Appropriate playground signs are essential. Your children’s playground is not safe without these playground signs.