Safety on the Playground – 4 Key Elements
Children see playgrounds as a sanctuary for fun and games, a place where they make friends and enjoy learning new things. They have been pivotal to children’s development – a place to learn key social skills while interacting with their peers while simultaneously developing motor skills. In today’s world of mobile phones, computers and TVs that can supply endless entertainment, playgrounds offer a beneficial and healthful alternative, which is why they are great features for schools and neighborhood or public parks.
But for all this growth to take place, adults must ensure playgrounds are safe and will not end up harming any children that are spending their time there. It is crucial that playgrounds are managed correctly and maintained properly to ensure safe use. Here are four key elements that can help make your playground a safe environment for kids of any age.
One of the most common playground accidents is tripping or falling over, resulting in grazed knees, elbows or hands. While there’s no way to stop children from falling over (it’s part of learning and growing up!), it is important to minimize the damage done to them when they do fall. Introducing a soft surface in to playgrounds is a realistic idea that offers real advantages. In many areas, concrete or asphalt has traditionally been used for playground flooring. These surfaces have little or no shock absorbing traits, making it all the more painful when children – or adults – fall on it. It also means the injuries sustained from a fall would more than likely break the skin, leaving it at risk of infection. Rather than using surfaces with no shock absorbing traits, safer alternatives would offer people a softer fall.
Sun Structures and Canopies
Another consideration to improve the safety and usability of playgrounds is to introduce canopies that offer protection from rain, snow and sun. This allows playground use no matter the weather. Another bonus to using canopies is that they create a place for children to rest and get out of the sun, helping reduce the risk of sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke. UV rays are dangerous to young skin, so shade canopies can offer peace-of-mind to teachers and parents concerned about too much heat and sun exposure. Canopies can be customized to each playground and come in a range of materials including plastic, metal and tensile fabric. Companies such as Clovis Canopies in the U.K. specialize in canopies and tensile fabric structures that can help improve nearly any playground.
Even the safest playground can become dangerous if it is neglected over time. Wood can splinter and weaken, bolts can become loose or exposed, and metal bits can rust or break. Routine inspections will help ensure a playground is still safe, and any issues can be fixed as they arise.
Playground Safety Signs
The final safety improvement for playgrounds is to post and enforce rules for safe playground use. Playground safety signs are an effective way to communicate with others so that your policies are followed even when you aren’t present. Common property rules include no alcohol, drugs, weapons or no smoking in playground areas. In some cases, playground owners may choose to create custom signs to address specific rules regarding dogs, park hours or correct use of equipment.
Liability signs are common in the U.S., and emergency contact signs are also a good idea. Beyond the playground itself, property owners often post watch for children signs or other notices to make drivers aware children are playing in the area.
With some simple precautions, playgrounds in schools, neighborhoods and public parks can be safe places to play, learn and grow.
Article submitted by Aedan Kiernan.