Kids love playgrounds, and they can be part of a healthy, active lifestyle. But the playground is also a place where children can get hurt. Children are most often injured when they fall from the equipment.
You can help make sure the playground is a safe place for your child.
Check your child
- Clothing can get trapped in equipment and strangle a child. Remove drawstrings and other cords from clothing. In the winter, use a neck warmer rather than a scarf. Use mitten clips instead of cords.
- Children should not wear bicycle helmets while they are on playground equipment. Their head may slip into a space between narrow openings and become stuck when the helmet is too big to pull back through.
- Do not use skipping ropes while on playground equipment.
Check your playground
- Choose playgrounds that are designed for your child’s age and stage of development. Children 5 years old and younger should only use playgrounds that are designed for preschool children because the equipment is smaller. Your child should be able to reach equipment on his own.
- Look for proper surfaces. Grass, dirt, asphalt or concrete are not safe surfaces for playground equipment.
- Good materials for playground surfaces include sand, wood chips and synthetic (man-made) materials, such as shredded rubber, that are soft. These materials will help absorb a child’s fall.
- The fill should be deep and loose. For preschool equipment, the fill should be at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep. With full-sized equipment, the fill should be at least 30 cm (12 inches) deep.
- Ensure the equipment has strong handrails and barriers to help prevent falls.
- Make sure the playground surface is clean: no garbage, glass or animal feces.
- Equipment should be firmly anchored in the ground.
- Swings should be made of something soft, not wood or metal.
- If you are concerned about the safety of your local playground, contact the people who operate it. Check the blue pages of your phone book for local contact information.
- Parents can get playground safety checklists to evaluate basic playground hazards. Contact your local or provincial injury prevention centre, your nearest children’s hospital, or Safe Kids Canada (1-888-SAFE-TIPS, 1-888-723-3847).
Supervise your child
- Stay close to your child.
- Be sure that children younger than 5 years old are supervised by an adult at all times.
- Ensure that your child uses the equipment safely and correctly.
- Teach your child to watch for other children and to take turns on playground equipment.
As a community, get involved
Communities should ensure that their local public playgrounds meet Canadian standards.
How can you do this?
- Have a certified expert inspect the playground to look for dangers. The expert will prioritize any changes that should be made.
- Ensure that the necessary changes are made so that the playground is safe.
- Keep the playground equipment, surface and grounds in good shape and clean.
- Report any injuries to the playground operator (the municipality, school, child care facility, etc).
- When planning future play areas, be sure they meet Canadian standards.
The Canadian Standards Association is responsible for standards for play spaces and equipment. Current standards can be purchased at www.csa.ca or by calling 1-800-463-6727.
Some communities create non-traditional outdoor play environments, such as community flower or vegetable gardens, sand or water play areas, instead of playground equipment. These play areas are less expensive to develop, and can be designed to challenge children’s development without the risk of a child falling from equipment. Visit www.evergreen.ca to see examples of alternative playgrounds.
Contact your local or provincial injury prevention centre or www.safekidscanada.ca for more information.
For more information: Preventing playground injuries, a statement of the Canadian Paediatric Society.