It`s getting warm outside. Kids spend more time on a playground. Often we worry about the safety of our children. I would like to highlight what we should pay special attention to.
Planning a playground is a quite difficult challenge. If it is about kids safety, the devil’s in the detail. There are a lot of things that need to be considered.
- Plan where the playground should be situated. It’s really important. It will have an impact on kids safety and your peace of mind. When your children are big enough to spend time alone on the playground you will want to keep an eye on them.
- Place the playground in an area that will be not in full sun all day long. There can be a risk of a heat stroke.
- The play space should be at some distance from your flowers or possibly dangerous areas of the yard. As we all know kids don`t keep their eyes down.
- If you live near the traffic you should make a fence around the playground and your property.
- Play equipment should be placed at a distance of 6 feet from any walls, fences, trees and other obstacles. It will ensure safe “landings”. Structures higher than 30 inches should be located at least 9 feet from each other.
- Merry-Go-Round`s, seesaws, swings and other moving gear should be separated from the rest of equipment. Those need more space and we don`t want anybody running in between.
- Be sure that the playground is empty of spaces where a child can be stuck. All spaces need to be less than 3½ inches or more than 9 inches. Anything in between may be dangerous.
- Pinch points – playground should be checked for points where child`s skin or fingers may be pinched.
Keep in mind Children`s curiosity
There are many toys and equipment in the playground, that should be protected from children`s curiosity. It is normal that kids need to touch everything. That`s the way they learn. That`s why we need to take care to protect our kids by keeping equipment and the playground safe.
Bolts and screws – You can cover them with plastic bolt covers. It doesn`t only make your playground safer but it will also make it look better. It costs almost nothing and the outcome is amazing. You can choose from various colors, that will suit the general outlook of the playground.
Sharp edges – Check any sharp edges on the playground. Cover them or remove. Throw away any sharp stones or glass
Flatten surface – Check for sticking out roots or holes in the lawn.
Fence – Shouldn`t be rusted. Check for bad splinters. Check that fence gates opening onto the street can`t be easily opened by small kids.
Before use, you should check if everything is stable and screws hold well. Nails can`t stick out of wood. That is crucial.
Important things to remember while buying
- Does equipment meet the standards? And have certification?
- What kind of material was used? We should search for high-quality material, preferably wood. Must be painted with non-toxic, lead-free paint.
- Play equipment must suit the surface you have in the backyard. Remember that falls are the most common type of playground injury, accounting for more than 75 percent of all playground-related injuries
- Select play equipment that is appropriate for the kids’ age
There will be different play sets for children
- 0- 2 years old
- 2-5 (preschoolers)
- 5- to 12-year-olds (school-age kids)
Playground equipment vs Children’s age
While organizing a backyard playground you need to keep in mind the children’s age and interest.
Kids age 2-5. To be completely happy they need only:
- small slide
- bucket, toddler swing
- small play house or tent
Older kids are stronger and have higher expectations. For those children you can think about:
- High slide
- Swing Set
- Tree House
- Monkey Bars
- Zip Line
While searching for the right swing, it is crucial to buy a swing that is designed for the specific child’s age.
You will have a different swing for a toddler and for a 5-8 year old kid.
According to safety rules, you should have bucket swing for kids age 6 months – 4 years.
Those children don`t have core strength and can fall down from a regular swing. Always invest in good, high-quality equipment. It will ensure safety.
If you are busy searching for that kind of swing I recommend you buy the one below.
When the swing is already mounted, you should check its stability. You should check everything 3 times before you let your children play on any kind of equipment.
Age is also an important criteria while searching for a slide.
A 2 year old kid will enjoy a small slide, that will let him go up himself. Older kids will say, the bigger, the better. Remember to choose the right playground surface. Dirt or grass may be dangerous if your kid falls down from a swing.
It is a good idea to connect a slide with a playhouse. You will easily find those kinds of sets on Amazon
Keep in mind that the bottom of a slide should be at some distance from other equipment.
Is your child 3 years old? Then a really small sandbox is enough. If your child is older, then think about a bigger investment. Personally, even for a toddler, I would buy something bigger, so I don`t need to replace the sandbox later on.
Probably you will need to put an extra layer of wood oil on to protect it from mold, rain, and sun. But in fact, wood is the best material available for kids.
Please don`t put sand directly on the dirt. It will end up everywhere in your backyard and the sandbox will quickly disappear.
- Sun or shade? Remember that a sandbox in full sun means the youngsters are exposed to UV rays.
What kind of sand?
Always have high-quality sand in your sandbox. It`s not a good idea to order normal construction sand, because it may already contain some contaminations. The best sand comes from the seaside or river. Currently, you can buy certified sand for sandboxes. The price is, of course, higher than the price of normal sand, but it`s worth it. You can be sure that the sand you bought is high quality and clean.
Buy a play sand locally. You will avoid high shipment costs.
Quality is really important. Kids play in the sandbox with their hands. Many times hands end up in the mouth. That way some bacteria, parasites or contamination may get into the body. That`s why it is crucial to keep sand clean. Sand must also meet the standards. Contamination may not be visible at first. It can be covered with a layer of clean sand. Playing in dirty sand is dangerous to your kid and also it`s not pleasant. You need to change sand often. At least once a year.
A sandbox needs cover so it will not become a toilet for local cats and other animals. As soon as your kid stops playing, you should close sandbox. Let`s say you don`t have any cover. You can use just normal foil.
Generally, avoid a non-impact absorbing surface, such as asphalt, concrete, grass, dirt or gravel. Playing at home on heights may also be dangerous so it’s best to give up on indoor climbing sets.
There is not one good answer to the question: which surface is the best for a playground? It depends on temperatures in summer, budget, the age of your kids and so on.
I would personally go with pea gravel or wood chips. If you are not sure and have some questions, please read my other post on that topic. I will guide you in choosing a safe and affordable playground surface –> Playground Surface
Think about playground edging. It will keep mulch inside. Plastic is safer than the stone edging. Select a material you can maintain easily. Lay material deep enough – crucial.
Drowning is a leading cause of death among children. So it`s crucial to supervise children while playing around a water. I mean, not only a pool but any kind of water. Playing even with a large bucket of water may be dangerous. If you have a pool in your backyard, please follow these rules.
- Never leave a small child alone around swimming pool, even when the child is not swimming. A child can drawn in less than 3 minutes.
- Surround the swimming pool with a fence at least 4 feets high.
- Keep toys away from the pool. Kids may want to take them out.
- A pool should always be covered while not in use.
- Keep electrical devices away.
- Always keep near a swimming pool:
- Safety Poster
- CPR instructions
- Shepherd’s hook
- Safety ring
Plants on a playground
We all have some plants in our backyards. They bring good feelings and make the backyard look beautiful. It`s good to have a lot of plants. They have a great impact on our mental health.
It is good to have big trees that brings shade to the playground. During hot summer those minimize the possibility of heatstroke and sunburn. When raining you can always hide under the tree. Don`t do it during a thunderstorm!
The plants in the playground shouldn`t limit visibility. You want to keep an eye on kids.
Often we have a grass surface in our playgrounds. You can go for a special strong type of grass. There are some used for sports areas and playgrounds. Try to keep the grass short. Thanks to that you will see all sharp things and contamination.
When it is about kids, we should check if there aren`t poisonous plants near the playground. Children tend to put everything in their mouths. You will be surprised how many plants can hurt your child. Please, spend a while on research.
Hey! Look. I`m not writing that to scare you or to make you paranoid. It is just good to be aware of some things. Maybe it doesn`t apply to you. But if that article helps anybody I will be more than grateful.
Regular Safety Controle
You have made a safe playground, but it is not the end of the story. You need to keep it safe.
You should check often:
- Equipment stability
- Sharp edges
- Quality of sand in sandbox
- Depth of pea gravel or wooden mulch
- Hide dangerous stuff in the garage
- No broken equipment on the playground
- Keep the playground clean and safe
- Keep pathways clear of toys, tools, and anything that may be unsafe for kids
- Hide things children may climb on
- Make a fence around your area, so children are far from traffic
- Don`t buy equipment that your kid will grow into. Toys must be appropriate for a child’s age.
- Check stability and cleanliness regularly
Safety Tips&Tricks on a Playground
- I am sorry. It’s too hot – Playground equipment during summer days may be extremely tricky. Your children can get burned really easily. And actually, it doesn`t require really high temperatures. So never assume a surface on a playground is safe without checking it.
- Sharp Edges/Missing parts – Look for missing pieces of wood, plastic, screws or sharp edges. Find metal pieces that can pinch children’s clothes or skin. An accident can often be prevented. You can save the health not only of your kids but others as well.
- Say No to a toddler on a slide – As long as your kid is too young to use a slide himself, better find another way to have fun on a playground. Very often kids get injured because parents put them on the lap and try to slide together. Your toddler’s legs may get caught on the slide which may lead to injury.
- Heights – You should supervise children while climbing or playing higher than 6 feet. 67% of playground accidents are caused by falls from equipment. Unfortunately, there are many playgrounds with the wrong surfaces.
- Dangerous Tools – Make sure that kids are safe at home while using dangerous tools like a lawnmower or electric saw.
- Supervision – Lack of supervision is associated with approximately 45 percent of playground-related injuries. So always actively supervise children while playing. It will be easy, because kids usually love attention. Also look for hazardous equipment.
Teaching kids about playground safety
Remember that a perfectly prepared playground is half way to success. You need to educate your child about safety. Below are some of the most important playground rules.
- Always play safe and be careful
- Never push or pull anybody
- Share equipment with others
- Make sure your shoes are tied
- Don’t play on wet equipment because it’s slippery
- Be patient and wait for your turn
- If there is a problem or someone is hurt, ask an adult for help
- Don`t go too close to moving equipment
- Never go to the playground by yourself or without letting an adult know
- On summer days make sure that equipment isn`t too hot
I made a playground rules poster for you. You can download it, print it and show it to your kids. It would be perfect to put the poster in a frame and keep it outside on the playground. If you do it, please send me a photo 😉 I will be more than happy.
The poster is one way to teach your children about playground rules. But not the only one. You should also teach them these rules:
- Use equipment properly, don`t climb slides or stand on a swing, always hold guardrails
- While jumping, make sure that nobody is in your way. Jump on both feets, with knees slightly bent
- Always use sunscreen, not only on hot summer days
- Leave toys, backpacks, bikes out of the playground area, so you can be sure that nobody will trip over them
- While riding a bike, always wear a helmet, but on the playground remember to take it off.
You can also teach your kids about safety on specific equipment, like a swing, seesaw, climbing set or slide. Below I will give you ideas for equipment rules. You can download it in the form of a poster. Enjoy!
Climbing Safety Rules
- Wait for your turn. Too many kids on a climbing set may result in an accident
- Don`t pull or push anybody who is climbing at the moment
- Always climb with both hands
- Don`t climb when equipment is wet
- Don`t climb down when there is somebody who is climbing up
Swing Safety Rules
- Do not twist swing chains or swing an empty swing.
- Do not stand on a swing. Sit and hold on with both hands.
- Do not stand close to a moving swing.
- Stop the swing completely before getting off.
- Never ride with more than two people.
See-saw Safety Rules
- Do not lean back. Sit straight. Hold on with both hands. Keep your legs out from under the bottom.
- One child per seat is allowed. A child who is too light shouldn’t look for another child to sit on his/her seat of a see-saw.
- Do not turn around. You should always face one another.
- Do not stand close to a moving see-saw. Keep a safe distance.
- Do not jump off a see-saw without warning your partner. Hold the board when you get off.
- Do not stand or run on the board. Sit on the seat only.
Slide Safety Rules
- Slide feet first only in a seated position.
- Only one person may slide at a time. Never slide down in a group.Parents may not accompany or hold the rider while sliding.
- When climbing to the top of the slide hold onto the guardrail.
- Children shouldn`t climb up the slide to the top.
- Do not start sliding until the landing area is clear of all other riders.
- Exit the slide immediately after stopping in the landing area.
Are all toys safe?
Today we have access to an enormous amount of various toys. But not every toy is worth buying. Some of them are made the cheapest way without attention to detail. There are toys that may be even dangerous to our children. Health and safety of children are a priority to parents.
How should you choose safe toys?
While choosing toys for our kids we should think about those that already bring fun and learning for many years. These are mostly safer than modern ones. Among timeless toys, we can find our beloved puzzles and wooden toys. Never forget about toys. They are not only safe, but can teach your kids a lot.
It`s worth looking at a producer and the certificates he provides. Some certificates are well-known and suggest that a toy is safe and support a child`s growth.
When buying toys we should consider:
- Cheap Toys – Of course you can find a lot of high-quality affordable toys and playground equipment. But be aware that there are a bunch of cheap dangerous toys as well. You can see that those are made without any attention to detail. Toys have to be painted with non-toxic, lead-free paint.
- Age – The producer usually suggests the age recommendation. It is important to follow that suggestion. Toys can be a danger to younger kids. Age recommendation concerns little parts that constitute a choking hazard.
- Natural Materials – We should seek toys made out of natural materials. It is always better to choose non-toxic and safe. Wooden toys are really popular. Among which we find blocks, bumper cars, and action figures.
There are some toys you really don`t want in your home. Watch a short movie below.
My child is injured on a playground!
We are always trying to make our playgrounds accident free spaces. However sometimes despite our good will, something may go wrong. There will always be a risk of an accident. It is important to know what to do when an accident happens.
Each and every parent must know basic first-aid principles.
That knowledge will give you self- esteem and confidence in a stressful situation.
I will focus here on major injuries that can be a threat to children’s life and basic first-aid.
What to do?
Most important is to determine the child`s physical condition. You need to check if your kid is conscious. You can do it by talking. Don`t hesitate to speak up. If the kid doesn`t answer to your voice try to shake him by holding his arms firmly. If he reacts and is conscious it means that basic vital functions are fine.
Do not move your child if you guess he may have a spine damage. It will only make the situation worst.
You should always seek professional medical help as soon as possible
In the case your child is unconscious you need to check his pulse and breath. If you don`t feel a pulse and breath, most important is to stay calm. Panic is the worst that may happen because then you are not able to help the child. So breathe deeply and try to calm down. In this case, it is crucial to know the basics of CPR. You should keep in mind that child CPR differs from adult CPR.
Basically, make sure airways are open. To do that put one hand on the child’s forehead and the other one on his chin. Pull the chin gently and press the forehead. If you think there might be a neck injury do it really carefully. Once you have done this you should look, listen and feel for breathing. It shouldn’t take longer than 10 seconds. You can do it in two ways:
- Put your head close to the kid’s mouth, so you can feel it
- Watch movements of the chest.
GIVE 2 RESCUE BREATHS Keeping the airway open, take the fingers that were on the forehead and pinch the victim’s nose closed. Make a seal with your mouth over the victim’s mouth and breathe out for about one second. Make sure you breathe slowly, as this will make sure the air goes in the lungs, not the stomach. Make sure you keep your eye on the victim’s chest.
- If the breath goes in, you should see the chest slightly rise and also feel it go in. If the breath goes in, give a second rescue breath.
- If the breath does not go in, reposition the head and try again. If it does not go in again, the victim may be choking. You’ll need to do more chest compressions in this case. Keep in mind abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver) should only be performed on someone who is conscious.
Repeat the cycle of 30 chest compressions and two breaths. You should do CPR for two minutes (five cycles of compressions to breaths) before checking for signs of life, a pulse or breathing. Continue CPR until someone takes over for you; emergency personnel arrives; you are too exhausted to continue; an AED is attached, charged, and the person running it asks you to clear the body; or pulse and breathing return.
- Don’t forget to call the emergency services after the first two minutes of CPR.
- After you call them, continue to administer CPR until they arrive.
Pay attention to a list of don’ts:
- Never leave a child alone. Unless you need to call for help, always stay with your kid.
- Do not slap or splash an unconscious kid`s face with water. These are movie gimmicks.
- Never feed or hydrate an unconscious person. It may cause choking.
- Do not place an unconscious kid head on a pillow.
You should occasionally come back to information about first-aid. By performing CPR you can save a child’s life. If you have the possibility of going for a first-aid course. You never know when it may be needed. Thanks to the knowledge and experience you can perform first-aid without panic and in a correct way.
If you would like to learn about first-aid while choking or burns I encourage you to visit Wikihow.
You will find a lot of priceless information there written in an easy way.
Here you can find an article that explains how to do CPR on a child –> ARTICLE
Finally, you should keep in mind these most important safety rules.
S – Supervision. Children should always be supervised while playing.
A – Age appropriate design. Equipment needs to be adjusted to children’s age.
F – Fall surfacing. Play only on an impact absorbing surface.
E – Equipment maintenance. Always remember to maintain playground equipment.
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