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Safety and Wellness

Back-to-School: Experts Caution Parents and Educators on Playground Safety

Two little girls on the playground

Review these safety measures before kids return to school

With the beginning of the school year quickly approaching for many children, Gillette Children’s and Regions Hospital experts are reminding parents and educators to use extra caution on playground equipment at schools and locals parks.

Each year, United States emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While you can’t always prevent an accident, you can prepare by following a few important guidelines, says pediatric orthopedic surgeon Stephen Sundberg, MD.

“Most playground injuries I see are preventable,” he says. “It’s important that parents and kids know how to stay safe while playing to prevent something like a fall—the most common type of playground injury—from happening.”

Sundberg advises parents, children and educators to review the following safety measures before hitting the playground:

  • Always supervise children using playground equipment. Accidents can happen fast and sometimes quietly, so stay alert in case kids need help.
  • If the playground is near an accessible hazard— like a busy street, forest, cliff or body of water, pay extra attention to kids who might wander off.
  • Make sure the playground has proper guard rails and soft material, like woodchips, mulch or sand, under all equipment.
  • Not all playgrounds are meant for every child. Choose one that matches your child’s age and abilities.
  • Read signs and make sure the equipment is in good condition before letting little ones play.
  • A sunny day is a great time to take the kids to the park, but make sure that playground equipment is not over-heated due to direct sun exposure. Many offer shaded play areas, so opt for those on hotter days.
  • On the flip-side, stay away from equipment during and after rain – until it’s dry.
  • Teach your children proper playground safety. Play-fighting, using equipment incorrectly, or jumping off without watching for others puts everyone at risk for injury.

About Level I Pediatric Trauma Care

Gillette Children’s and Regions Hospital, which are located on the same campus, have a partnership that earned certification as a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center. This partnership provides emergency trauma services at Regions and long-term care and rehabilitation at Gillette. Level I Pediatric Trauma Centers meet strict requirements and have a specially trained team of health care providers, available on-site 24/7 for critically injured children, especially moderate to severe trauma cases. The designation is also important because research shows that the risk of death for injured children is significantly lower when care is provided in pediatric trauma centers than in non–pediatric centers.