Spring is finally here, and kids are excited to go back outside to bike, explore, play and generally be kids. After a long winter, playground equipment can be damaged, worn out or generally in disrepair. Before your kids start playing, here are some tips to ensure that your child is playing in a safe environment.
Playground equipment should have some sort of shock-absorbing surface around and underneath it. This is especially important under swings, slides, monkey bars and any other equipment where children can fall. The shock-absorbing material is often removed when snow is plowed or shoveled away, so make sure that it is adequate to cushion a fall.
Check swing sets to make sure that none of the parts have gotten rusty. When inspecting a swing’s chains, also check for open links that could pinch your child’s hand. If there is a toddler or “bucket” swing, make sure your child can’t climb out of the swing. Use restraints if there are any, and make sure that your child isn’t able to slide through the restraints and become entrapped
All equipment should be secured and firmly anchored to the ground so that it can’t tip over. Make sure the anchors are below the ground so that children cannot trip over them. There should also be no loose ropes, including jump ropes and leashes, tied to playground equipment. Any ropes used for climbing should be secured at both ends to prevent the risk of entanglement or strangulation.
Elevated play areas should also have guardrails to prevent children from falling off and injuring themselves. Make sure the openings between guardrails aren’t big enough for a child to get stuck in. Openings should be small enough that a child cannot slide their head and body through, or big enough that children can slide themselves through. If the opening is big enough for a child’s head but not the rest of their body, there is a risk of getting stuck.
Lastly, make sure you supervise your children! Even if the playground equipment seems safe, it doesn’t mean your child is 100% risk free from injury. Some studies estimate that around 40% of playground injuries are the result of poor supervision or no supervision. Children are energetic and curious, and they can quickly find ways to get hurt. Be vigilant, and ensure that it’s a fun and healthy day at the park.
Ken Selander is a children’s injury attorney. If your child was injured on defective or improperly maintained playground equipment, call Ken at 206.723.8200 for a free consultation.