Tuesday Tips: Back to the City - Playground Safety

What should I watch out for on the playground?

What can I do to keep my child safe on the playground?

Close supervision — either by you, or a trusted peer or Nanny — is critical when your child is at the playground. (You can't always be with your child during his playtime, especially during the school day or after school, but make sure he's never unattended at a playground.) For example, your child may know how to use a slide, but not know the best way to get off it once he reaches the bottom. So watch your child carefully as he slithers to the bottom, or be there to spot him. And if the playground you're at is overrun with other kids, choose another spot. It's easier to observe your child at play in a calm, rather than chaotic, environment.

Another key to playground safety is to dress your child appropriately. Loose threads, strings, and clothing can catch on equipment, posing a strangulation hazard. Dress your child in close-fitting but comfortable clothes, free of drawstrings or other hanging material.

How can I make sure the playground equipment is age-appropriate?

Of course, all children grow and mature at different rates, but here are some general guidelines to follow with specific playground equipment. Designated "tot lots" are best for children under 3 years old; the equipment there has been specially designed with the tiniest people in mind. Children under the age of 5 should be strapped into swings to avoid falls; older kids have the strength to hold themselves in the seat and keep from falling out. Jungle gyms, which invite climbing, are best for children 6 years of age and older. Younger kids are too small to safely navigate the equipment. Closely supervise children under 8 on the merry-go-round. Little kids more easily lose their balance when whirled around. And seesaws are best reserved for kids 8 and older, too. But if younger children want to try their hands (and feet) at the seesaw, be sure to oversee them on the equipment.

Where can I report a problem with the equipment?

First go to the authority that oversees the playground where you spot a problem. For example, if your playground is on city land, call the parks and recreation or related department. If you're at a school, go to the principal or superintendent. You also might consider organizing a community group around improving a local playground. Whatever you do, don't ignore any potential safety hazard. If the problem isn't getting fixed, go to another site that's safer.

SOURCE: http://www.babycenter.com/0_playground-safety_64890.bc?page=2