When looking for outdoor playground equipment for your children to enjoy, whether you are looking to purchase or just looking for local parks and play areas to use, one of the most important considerations is safety. Although there are many playground related accidents and injuries every year, the good news is that a few simple rules and checks will greatly reduce the chances of your kids running into hazards while outdoors.
- Adult supervision is the one of the top methods of accident prevention. Ensure that the playground that you install or use is fully viewable from where adults will be located.
- Adult presence can also encourage positive and responsible play behaviour in children. It is important that children understand the importance of responsible play, especially when there are other children using the same equipment. No pushing or shoving, taking turns on playground slides, using equipment appropriately, and being aware of danger (e.g. equipment can get hot in the summer, slippery in the rain), are all good things to teach children to help enhance their playtime activity.
- If you are purchasing outdoor playground equipment, ensure that it is purchased from a reputable supplier. Comprehensive and appropriate installation instructions should be provided and if necessary, they should be able to point you in the direction of installation professionals where required (such as for commercial playground equipment, or large playground swings). Generally speaking, the larger the piece of equipment, the greater the higher likelihood that a professional may need to assist, but safety needs to be considered for all sized play-pieces.
- Ensure that the playground design is safe. The layout should have all activities appropriately spaced, the environment should be safe (consider slopes, trees, traffic, underfoot terrain etc. that can all become hazards), and the equipment itself should be designed with safety in mind. In terms of purchasing outdoor or commercial playground equipment, you can cover some of these bases by purchasing from reputable and well-known companies who have high safety standards and good reputations for service and support, then you need to follow their advice on installation procedures.
- Regular inspection and maintenance is essential to keep your equipment safe. A quick check of all the equipment for stability, foreign objects, and other hazards before letting your children play can avoid many injuries and health risks. This applies to backyard play areas, school playgrounds, public parks, or any other piece of outdoor playground equipment that your child may use.
By following these 5 simple rules you can not only reduce the risks associated with outdoor playground equipment, but in doing so, you increase the fun and enjoyment that children will gain from the play. After all, that is the reason that we encourage our kids to use such equipment in the first place – to explore, gain confidence, develop, and be happy.