The best outdoor safety tips
Play is important for children. It helps with physical development and social skills.
Climbing and exploring can help your kids develop critical thinking and analytical skills. Playgrounds offer a fun place where children can learn to make new friends, gain some exercise and get some fresh air.
Although this should be a fun day out, there are also some potential hazards every parent should be aware of. So we’ve rounded up some playground safety tips for your next day out.
Playing with other kids.
Kids love to meet new friends. Younger children can learn skills such as climbing and swinging on playground equipment and develop new skills by learning to take turns and share.
There should be plenty of play areas – such as sandpits, hopscotch and climbing structures like monkey bars to all help with children’s development.
But kids are naturally inquisitive and may run off, playing hide and seek or tag so it’s important to set some rules for your day.
Dress for the playground.
There are a couple of aspects here – dressing for climbing with no hanging or lose fabrics or necklaces. Also, dress to keep your children noticeable within the playground.
Dress your kids in bright colours, or matching tops, which can help them to stand out to you and others. Parents don’t just dress their children in matching tops to look cute – it can really make them stand out which helps you find your children easier.
Avoid a dangerous situation by not wearing hooded sweatshirts or neck scarves which could cause strangulation if they get caught. You could also take into account keeping limbs covered for any scuffs and falls. The right footwear is important within the playground – flip flops and sandals are a big no-no. If the weather is warm apply sun cream and pop a hat on your little one. Try and sit and play in partial shade if possible on hot days as playgrounds can become a sun trap and have a few bottles of water available.
Take a first aid kit.
Parents would be wise to pop a small first kit in their bag when visiting a playground. Some simple plasters and antiseptic wipes can soon settle a child if they have any injuries.
Parents should supervise their children at all times, this goes according to their age group and the younger your child is the more supervision you have, but they are your responsibility – and this means playing with other kids as well as checking for predatory dangers.
Try to avoid injuries by choosing playgrounds with grassy surfaces and secure railings.
Check the playground has a good soft surface such as shredded rubber so your family’s safety is not compromised.
Take a photo of your children.
If you are going on a big day out some parents recommend taking a photo of your children in the clothes they are wearing, so then should they get lost, you have an up to date picture to share. You could try hi-vis jackets (for you or your kids) or you can buy wrist bands for children that you write a name and phone number on should they wander off.
It is also worth setting some safety tips to keep your older child safe – such as highlighting a place to meet should you get lost, such as a kiosk or a particular bench.
Role-play a situation if you were to get separated – and talk to your child about what they would do.
Playground safety is vital for kids as not every apparatus is designed for all age ranges and some items may have hidden dangers, including broken or worn out pieces that make them unsafe. Check equipment for sharp edges or gaps in guard rails.
Be water wary.
If there is a water area in your playground be extra cautious. Children are curious creatures, so keep a close eye on your toddlers if there is a pond or stream nearby.
Prep your children.
Hae a quick chat about playground safety and stranger danger before you go off and play. Discuss what rules you have in place and talk to them about what they would do if they were lost. It is worth checking your surroundings with your kids and pointing out a point to go to if you need help – such as a kiosk or a particular bench to wait at.
Establish some rules.
Establish some playground safety rules such as only one person at a time is allowed on the swing and other equipment. These playground safety tips are just as relevant at indoor jungle gyms and play barns too to keep kids safe.
Make sure your kids know some ground rules such as how to treat others – no pushing or rough playing with other children; no talking to strangers and to wait your turn to go on play equipment such as swing sets.
Make your day fun.
Your day out should be fun – a park is a community gathering place to spend time and meet friends.
Avoid playgrounds that are hidden away or where the playground equipment looks poorly maintained.
Safety aspects are needed too such as ensuring they keep their shoes on or done up (no loose shoelaces here please), making sure they don’t leave bags unattended which cause a tripping hazard. Wear clothes that are suitable for climbing and that protect their skin too.
Don’t assume your kids will know basic playground rules – for example no running in front of swings, only one at a time on the slide and no coming down the slide backwards. The same rules apply when they are at the jungle gym too.
Keeping children safe to avoid injuries.
Older kids should not be climbing up the slides (why do kids always do this?) or jumping off climbing structures and swings. Little ones should also avoid twisting around on swings – a real danger hot spot in playgrounds.
A quick chat about how to fall safely is worth it – tucking in fingers and hands, or being aware of the ground when they fall, such as keeping knees bent, can help alleviate any injuries.
Check the weather.
Warm weather can make playground equipment very hot, especially plastic seats which could cause your child’s skin to burn. Your kids may become hot running around so wear layers in case they want to remove a top. But also have warm layers or waterproofs for your kids if they get wet.
Ultimately we want your day in the playground to be about having fun and as hazard-free as possible. We hope with these playground safety tips your day will be just that.
What should I do if there are any hazards in playgrounds?
If you notice any hazards in a public or backyard playground, report them as soon as you can and do not allow little ones to use the equipment until it is safe. If you can take a photograph of the equipment that will help.
You may find glass or rubbish around or swings that are not securely attached or a swing set that is broken which could cause some injuries so try to avoid these parts of the playground.
Look out for hazards.
Slides can become very hot in the summer and there could be other hot equipment such as see-saws. Dress appropriately – shorts may seem nice and cool but the bare skin could cause a friction burn. Make sure your babies know to exit the bottom of the slide once they have whizzed down. There should be a good shock-absorbing surface to avoid any accidental burns or bumps.
Point out any bumpy tree roots in the park, they might easily become a tripping hazard as your child is running around.
Learn about balance by playing safely on a seesaw – try to always go for a similar weighted child otherwise you risk a small child flying off if there is an imbalance.
Similarly, show your children how to use a roundabout safely and talk about playing with younger kids who might not want to go so fast.
Why is playground safety so important?
Although playground equipment offers a fun place to socialise, they can also have a number of safety hazards.
Sadly over 200,000 kids are injured on playgrounds every year. This can be down to a mix of parents not paying close supervision or accidents on broken climbing equipment.
Kids love to play outside but it is worth doing a quick check and running through some rules for your little ones.
Playground safety is relevant to all ages. Older kids will want to have some independence but will need to be mindful of not being too rough with other kids. Younger ones will need closer supervision.
A good playground will have age-appropriate playground equipment so children can play safely with other kids. There should be a good playground surfacing such as wood chips to help protect kids if they fall.
Avoid outdoor play areas that have faulty equipment, concrete flooring or where you have any safety concerns that may impair your child’s safety.
You can reduce the risk of little ones harming themselves by sticking to a play area and climbing equipment that is aimed at their age range and ability.
But do make sure your kids are comfortable and can play safely. One four year old may be totally comfortable on the monkey bars whereas another child may need more supervision.
Check age-appropriate equipment is safe and there are no broken parts of the apparatus. A quick sift through any sandpits is worth doing to check for rubbish or broken glass increasing your child’s risk of injury.
And those safety buckles on swing sets are there for a reason so strap your little one in before you start pushing the swings to keep your child safe.
Age-appropriate play equipment.
All kids develop at different rates, so one child might be happy on the climbing equipment but another child may want your help.
Adult supervision is vital to make sure your kids can climb up and down steps and equipment.
And it’s just as important your child knows how to get off the climbing apparatus carefully too. Keep toddlers at arm’s reach to avoid dangerous situations such as them running off.
Friction burns in the playground.
Check for any bumps or cracks in the ground that may be a trip hazard. The ideal flooring for a playground should have shock absorbents such as woodchips, shredded tyres or grassy surfaces.
Do keep an eye out for broken glass or used syringes around the playground.