playground safety

10 tips for playground street smarts


If you spot monkey bars or animal-shaped swing seats at your park, don't use them! Both have been recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission because of the serious injuries children may sustain by using them.

Child chat: To avoid park power struggles, survey the scene ahead of time to assess whether the local playground is right for your family. Let your kids know what they can and can't use.

2. Sensible Swings: Damaged swings are unsafe for your child, so examine them carefully (and see below for information on how to get faulty equipment fixed). If chains or S-hooks are rusting, open or breaking, they must be replaced. Chains should be changed every year, or when the manufacturer recommends. Nuts and bolts should be tight. Check out the seats '- they should be made of plastic. And a park or school swing set should only have two swings (anything more is considered a hazard) for each bay/structure supporting them, which helps avoid injuries from children running in front of, between or behind the swings.

Child chat: Your child won't know how dangerous it can be to walk in front of a swing unless you specifically tell him why. Always accompany him to the swing set and discourage running ahead. Show him how to walk slowly, and make sure he stays behind the swing set and at a safe distance.

3. Calling All Tree Huggers: Even when children are surrounded by the best and brightest jungle gyms, the Murphy's Law of playgrounds states that they will likely lust after the tallest tree. Look for play areas where the first seven feet of tree trunks are branch-free to avoid climbing accidents. Pay attention to trees' health. A dead tree or branch can fall at any time and be extremely dangerous, so steer your kids clear!

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