Playgrounds are great places for children to get exercise and have fun, but it's important for parents and caregivers to take steps to protect youngsters from potential dangers.
"Most playground injuries involve minor cuts and scrapes, but they can also be much more serious," says Tracy King, coordinator of the Injury Prevention Program at Children's Hospital & Medical Center.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reports more than 200,000 children visit emergency departments each year with head, neck and spinal cord injuries; broken bones; internal bleeding; and other life threatening injuries related to playground accidents.
"We want kids to be outside playing and having fun, but we want to help them do it safely," says King.
Special television and radio announcements feature outdoor adventures starring a boy named Max and his outback friend. Together, they will encourage all kids to make playgrounds a safer place by following a few simple guidelines:
Supervision - Adults need to be present when kids are playing outside. A lack of supervision is a contributing cause of many playground injuries.
Age Appropriateness - Children should only play on equipment that is appropriate for their age and level of development.
Fall Surfacing - The playground surface should act as a cushion in the event of a fall. Asphalt, dirt, concrete, and even grass are not considered safe surfaces underneath play equipment. A one-foot fall onto concrete can cause a concussion.
Equipment Maintenance - Make sure the equipment isn't broken or damaged. Check for missing components, glass, rocks or debris. And, look for gaps or openings that could allow a small child to slip through, or a child's head or body to become trapped.