As a parent, you try to do everything you can to keep your children safe at all times, especially in regards to taking them to public places. With children visiting the playground as often as they do, here are some hidden hazards you may want to make yourself aware of.
Unknown Items Lurking In The Sandbox
Most playgrounds are on public domain and just because the hours listed show from dusk until dawn does not mean that visitors do not stop by after hours. There could be bottles, glass, cigarette buds, needles, or other unknown items lurking in that sandbox your child plays in every time you visit the playground. Since the playgrounds are usually kept up by your local community, with limited funds, how often do you think the public workers are able to search and clean out the sandbox from foreign items?
Children have no filter as to picking their nose, washing their hands, or putting their mouth on playground equipment, only to have other children touch those same areas right afterwards. Those same children could be just barely recovering from a recent cold, and spreading germs all over the playground.
If you regularly bring hand sanitizing wipes with you for your children when you go to the playground, you are way ahead of the game. However, those wipes may not protect your child from every single type of bacteria present at the playground. Your best bet is to have your child use those wipes periodically before, during, and after playground playtime is over. You may also want to brush up on manners and hygiene with them about covering their mouth when they cough or sneeze, and to use a Kleenex instead of wiping their snot on the equipment.
Depending on where you live can also promote hidden dangers on the playground you may not have even realized. You may have dressed your child up according to the weather forecast thinking you covered all of the important aspects such as a hat, sunscreen, a coat, or gloves but you may be forgetting about the weather oriented hazards of the physical playground itself. For example, if you live in a very hot climate, the sun can heat up the metal on the playground to where your child can actually burn their hands when touching playground equipment or even their legs when going down a metal slide. If you live in a very cold climate, for example where it may snow often, the ice can make the playground equipment slippery and that can be another hidden danger for your child.
Do your homework and keep planning accordingly with protecting your child with sunscreen, a hat, coat, gloves, but also check out the equipment on the playground yourself before you let your child play as a precaution.
For the most part, helmets can keep children safe from practically anything--falling off their bicycle, skateboarding, rollerblading, to even riding on a piece of cardboard down the stairs in your house. However, when it comes to wearing a helmet at a playground, it is ill advised. The straps from their helmet (or the actual helmet) can get caught in the playground equipment, thus making it another choking hazard for your child. Not to mention another child can tighten the straps to your child's helmet causing them to choke, and if they do not know how to loosen those straps, again it can be a dangerous hazard.
The swing is one of the most popular attractions a playground has to offer children, which in turn makes it also one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment that is present at a playground. You might think the most obvious hazard is children using the swing incorrectly or jumping from the swing too high. Although these are potential hazards, have you ever thought of whether your child safely fits in the swing?
If your child is too big and tries to swing on the baby swings they could actually get themselves stuck. They could get themselves stuck to the point where the Fire Department would have to get involved to actually cut the swing to free your child. If your child is too small to swing on the big kid's swing, they could fall off mid flight and get hurt. Make sure you are actively present with your child to make sure they fit safely in the designated swing before you allow them to swing.
The Heightened Slide
The slide is another popular attraction at a playground, thus again making it one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment. A good safety tip would be to make sure your child knows the rules about going down a slide safely. They should sit flat on their bottom with their feet out, keep their hands in their lap, and wait until the bottom of the slide is clear from any other children. If they try to go backwards, on their side, or on their belly, they could get hurt. If they do not keep their hands in their lap, they could get hurt especially if a tree branch is close to the slide.
You are being a responsible parent if you constantly reinforce the playground rules with your children. However, just because you are being a responsible parent, does not mean the other children playing with your child have responsible parents. Surely you have noticed, but when you go to the playground there are a lot of parents on their phones, or who are not paying attention to what their child is doing. You have to assume that no other parents have taught their children the safety rules you taught your children.
It is important to let your child know that if they see another child being unsafe at the playground that they should not copy what they are doing, and should remember what you as their parent taught them. Another way to keep your child safe, is to advise them that if they see another child doing something unsafe, that they should play in another area. This way if another child creates a dangerous situation, your child is not nearby to also get hurt as a result.
Monkeying Around On The Monkey Bars
Children do not think about the dangers of playground equipment like parents do...or like parents should. So it is important to assess the monkey bars at the playground before letting your child play on them. If you leave your child unattended when they use the monkey bars for the first time, this could result in serious injuries. According to Health.com, the monkey bars are one of three pieces of equipment credited the most often in connection to head injuries. Sometimes children get scared because it is high for them, don't know how to get down or jump down, and end up just falling off.
This is one hazard that a lot of parents miss because they are concerned with how the child dresses to the playground to accommodate weather forecasts, but safety gets overlooked. You might have made your child wear a sweater before they went out the door because it is the middle of winter, but have you ever thought about the sweater cords that hang from their hoodie? Those cords could get stuck in between equipment and become potential choking hazards for your child.
An additional hazard is if your child has slick pants on, that factor right there could cause them to go down the slide faster than anticipated and they could get injured. The drawstring or cords from clothes could also be pulled by other children just wanting to play with your child, but could end up harming or choking your child. While preparing your children to be safe in the weather, you will have to simultaneously keep in mind as to whether or not their clothes are safe for the playground.
I know what you are thinking, that lead was a problem decades ago but not anymore. Sadly you are mistaken. Although a lot of playgrounds have been upgraded throughout the years to not use lead anymore, some playgrounds still have lead in their equipment as they have yet to be upgraded. We all know the harmful issues in regards to lead, yet, do you know if there is lead present in the playground your child plays at?
If you are not sure, and there are no signs posted around the playground, according to WebMD, they suggest to make a call to your local Park and Recreation department to find out what has been used at your local playground and what testing has been done, if any. It definitely would not hurt to call to find out for sure, especially if that means protecting your children.
Watch this video to learn more about the dangers of hot playground equipment.
Preparing Never Hurts
Whether you realize it or not, there are dangerous hidden hazards lurking in the playground your children could be playing at this very second. The best thing you can do as a parent for your children is to be aware of all hazards, and to teach your children how to play safe at playgrounds.