Author: Margaret W. Miltenberger, M.B.A., B.S., 4-H and Family Extension Agent, West Virginia University, WVU Mineral County Extension Office
Children love to be outside. Outdoor time builds strong bodies and imaginative minds. Children who have daily outdoor time are better behaved and better able to focus on learning. They are more physically active and maintain a healthier weight.
It is important to keep playgrounds safe as well as fun. The fun can quickly change to tears and a trip to the emergency room if there is an accident. It is estimated that each year over 170,000 playground injuries occur. Approximately twenty children will die from playground related injuries.
Supervision. Supervising young children outdoors helps decrease the potential for accidents. It is tempting when you are outside to simply sit down and relax, or use the time to talk with friends and neighbors. But accidents can and do happen when you are distracted. Review safety rules with children and remember children don’t always put safety first. Stay focused on watching children as they play.
One of the best ways to keep safe is to teach children basic safety rules like how to use swings, slides, and other play equipment. But rules alone won’t keep a child safe. Remember children under age three do not understand rules. Older children may not remember or heed them.
When visiting a new playground take time to walk around and look for any safety hazards. Inspect a familiar playground for something that may have become broken or for unsafe foreign objects such as glass.
The Dirty Dozen Checklist
The National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) has identified twelve of the leading causes of injury on playgrounds. The 'Dirty Dozen Checklist' can be used as a guide to inspect a playground.
National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI)
The National Playground Safety Institute (NPSI) is sponsored by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). NPSI's mission is to promote children's rights to play in a safe environment and to nationally promote the importance of play in their development. The NPSI promotes the latest public playground industry standards and guidelines as the most desirable standard of care for public-use playgrounds. For a listing of playground related publications available through NRPA go to http://www.nrpa.org/.
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