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Food & Fitness

Playground Safety

Father and son at a playgroundPlaygrounds and outdoor play equipment can provide your child with fun, fresh air and exercise, but they can also pose some safety hazards. Faulty equipment, improper surfaces, careless behavior and lack of adult supervision are just a few of the dangers that cause children on playgrounds to visit hospital emergency rooms.

You can make the playground a place that’s entertaining and safe for your child by checking equipment for potential hazards and following some simple safety guidelines. In addition, teaching your child how to play safely is important: kids who know the rules of the playground are less likely to get hurt.

Safety Guidelines for Parents

A proper playground surface is one of the most important factors in reducing injuries – and the severity of injuries – that occur when kids fall from equipment. The surface under the playground equipment should be soft enough and thick enough to soften the impact of a child’s fall. Here are some things to consider:

  • Concrete, asphalt and blacktop are unsafe and unacceptable. Grass, soil and packed-earth surfaces are also unsafe because weather and wear can reduce their capacity to cushion a child’s fall.
  • The playground surface should be free of standing water and debris that could cause a child to trip and fall, such as rocks, tree stumps and tree roots.
  • The surfaces may be loosely filled with materials like wood chips, mulch, sand, pea gravel or shredded rubber.
  • Surfacing mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials are also safe.
  • Rubber mats and wood chips allow the best access for people in wheelchairs.

Whether your child plays on a home or public playground, it’s important that you take a general look at the equipment to make sure that it is clean and well maintained. All hardware on equipment should be secure, with no loose or broken parts. Plastic and wood should show no signs of weakening, and there should not be any splintered or rusted surfaces.

If the local playground has a sandbox, check for hazardous debris such as sharp sticks or broken glass, and be sure that the sand is free of bugs. Sandboxes should be covered overnight to prevent contamination from animals, such as cats.

Help keep your playground clean and safe by picking up trash, using the equipment properly, and reporting any problems to the city, town, or county parks department, school or other organization that is responsible for the upkeep of the playground. If a part seems broken, loose or in need of other maintenance, designate it off limits immediately and report the problem to the appropriate authorities.

Unsafe Playground Equipment

The following types of equipment are not safe for playgrounds:

  • animal figure swings
  • glider swings that hold more than one child at a time
  • swinging ropes that can fray, unravel or form a noose (any kind of rope attached to play equipment poses a strangulation hazard, so never let your child tie jump ropes or leashes onto the equipment)
  • exercise rings (as used in gymnastics) and trapeze bars
  • monkey bars
  • trampolines

Teaching Kids About Playground Safety

Kids should know how to be safe and act responsibly at the playground. Here are some general rules to teach your child:

  • Never push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, seesaws, swings and other equipment.
  • Use equipment properly — slide feet first, don’t climb outside guardrails, no standing on swings, etc.
  • If you jump off equipment, make sure that you check to make sure that there are no other children are in the way. When you jump, land on both feet with knees slightly bent.
  • Leave bikes, backpacks and bags away from the equipment and the area where you’re playing so that no one trips over them and falls.
  • Playground equipment should never be used if it is wet, because moisture causes the surface to be slippery.
  • During the summertime, playground equipment can become uncomfortably or even dangerously hot, especially metal slides. So use good judgment — if the equipment feels hot to the touch, it’s probably not safe or fun to play on.
  • Don’t wear clothes with drawstrings or other strings at the playground. Drawstrings, purses and necklaces could get caught on equipment and accidentally strangle a child.
  • Wear sunscreen when playing outside even on cloudy days, so that you don’t get sunburned.

Play is an important part of kids’ physical, social, intellectual and emotional development. Following these safety tips will help your kids play as safely as possible.

  • Terri Lynn Merritts

    Don’t forget Mary Pride’s Practical Homeschooling Magazine. This is a terribly short list. I can name thousands more resources and sites. I have used The Well-Trained Mind and it is excellent. 

  • Jenni

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  • Wilma Winfrey

     I have an older sister, Elizabeth. My older sister was born in 1985. I was born in 1987. My older sister got a 3.9 average in high school and graduated in 2003. My cousin John has an older brother, Matthew. I had thoughts that my older sister, Elizabeth, would come visit me. My older sister got a 3.67 average in college and graduated in 2007. My older sister, Elizabeth, attended Arbor Station Elementary School from 1990-1996. She attended Chapel Hill High School from 1999-2003. My cousin John was born on April 4, 1985.

  • Wilma Warner

    I have an older sister. My older sister was born in 1985. I was born in 1987. I played on the playground at Hunter Park when I was a girl. My older sister, Elizabeth, took me to Hunter Park a few times. My cousin John has an older brother, Matthew. My older sister lives in Atlanta. I live in Douglasville. My older sister works at MedShare in Atlanta. Miss Holt was my second grade teacher. Ms. Conforti was my third grade teacher.

  • tonya

    Could someone send me a list of homeschool programs in AL. I’m on a low income basis, but my daughter is doing HORRIBLE in the small town school that she is in. I need some place affordable, but very educational. Thank you.

    • tonya

      She is also special needs and has anxiety disorder. I have come to realize that there are very few teachers that want to “deal” with these children. She is bullied on a daily basis and nothing is being done. Please help. :(

      • Cheryl Canady

        Get your child out now! Try k-12 it’s free.

  • Gail Nelson

    If you’re looking for a new homeschool magazine that also has something for the kids, I publish Learning Tangent Homeschool Magazine. We started receiving enough kids’ submissions to create a mini-mag in the middle of the main one. So really, it’s almost two in one.

  • Sarah Egan

    GoConqr is a free social learning platform with tools including mind maps, flashcards, notes and quizzes, online study groups and mobile apps. You can create your own content or browse our user generated content library.

  • Marguerite Pollard

    Atelier is the home schoolers Arts Attack (award winning Art program), it is affordable and an excellent program.

  • Marguerite Pollard

    BBC Muzzy online language learning is a great way to teach foreign languages. It can be used as early as 2 years old as there are tons of non-reader activities. Languages on Muzzy are: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Korean, & Mandarin Chinese, you don’t have to choose a language, they are all a part of the program – and only $89 per year / there are activities, games, songs and a really fun story line. Check it out at!

  • Michael Huber

    If you are interested in computer programming, try – there are puzzles, games and short tutorials.

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