What to Bring for Your Kids to Parks and Playgrounds
Sun Protection for Children
- Sun protection is crucial for everyone, particularly children. Get all family members to apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 to 30 before stepping out in the sun, wear wide brim hats and sunglasses with UV protection. Encourage children to look for shade in the form of trees, buildings and umbrella whenever possible. For babies in strollers, use a sun protector or drape a sheet over the stroller to avoid direct sun exposure.
Proper Snacks and Drinks
- It's always a good idea to pack a small bag of 'park' foods such as a granola bar or any heatly snack you child enjoys. Also try to bring a bottle of water for your child as all that running around will be sure to make them thirsty!
First Aid Kit
- Get a first aid kit and leave it in the car. Make sure the kit has band-aids, cotton wool, antiseptic cream, a pair of small scissors, alcohol swabs, gauze pads and triangular bandage. These will come in handy when someone suffers cuts and bruises while playing in the park.
Change of Clothes
- It’s always advisable to pack a small bag with a change of clothing for the kids and leave it in your car (or stoller). Make sure there is a spare shirt, jacket, towel, pants, socks and undies for each child. If any of the kids accidentally dirties or wets the shirt during the journey, you can easily change them without having to leave. It’s a good idea to keep the change of clothing in the car at all times. The kids may have little mishaps in the park even during short trips.
Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide fun, fresh air, and exercise. But they also can pose some safety hazards. Faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior are just a few of the hazards of playgrounds — each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital ERs for playground-related injuries. Many of these could have been prevented with the proper supervision.
You can make the playground a place that's entertaining and safe for your kids by checking equipment for potential hazards and following some simple safety guidelines. And teaching kids how to play safely is important: If they know the rules of the playground, they're less likely to get hurt.
Parents can help prevent playground accidents by taking some precautions, ensuring that there's adult supervision at the playground, and making sure that the equipment is appropriate to a child's age and maturity level. Adult supervision can help prevent injuries by making sure kids properly use playground equipment and don't engage in unsafe behavior around it. If an injury does occur, an adult can assist the child and administer any needed first aid right away. Kids should always have adult supervision on the playground. Young children (and sometimes older ones) can't always gauge distances properly and aren't capable of foreseeing dangerous situations by themselves. Older kids like to test their limits on the playground, so it's important for an adult to be there to keep them in check.
Supervising playground activity is the first step to minimising the risk of injury. A child often does not realise that he is doing something wrong because he is engrossed in play. An adult supervisor though, can determine if a child is in a dangerous situation and respond appropriately. For example, a child who is attempting to hang upside down on a slide can be cautioned immediately and prevented from repeating the same behaviour in future.
Before you visit a playground, check to make sure that play areas are designed to allow an adult to clearly see kids while they're playing on all the equipment.
Teaching Kids About Playground Safety
Safe playground equipment and adult supervision are extremely important, but it's only half of the equation: Kids must know how to be safe and act responsibly at the playground. Here are some general rules to teach your kids:
Safety on the Swings
- Never push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, see-saws, swings, and other equipment.
- If you jump off equipment, always check to make sure no other kids are in the way. When you jump, land on both feet with knees slightly bent.
- Leave bikes, backpacks, and bags away from the equipment and the area where you're playing so that no one trips over them.
- During the summertime, playground equipment can become uncomfortably or even dangerously hot, especially metal slides. So use good judgment — if the equipment feels hot to the touch, it's probably not safe or fun to play on.
- Wear sunscreen when playing outside even on cloudy days so that you don't get sunburned.
Swings are the most frequent source of childhood injuries from moving equipment on a playground. But a few simple precautions should keep kids safely swinging in the breeze; Kids should always sit in the swing, not stand or kneel. They should hold on tightly with both hands while swinging, and when finished swinging, stop the swing completely before getting off. Children should stay a safe distance from other kids on swings, being careful not to run or walk in front of or in back of moving swings. Kids should never ride with more than one child to a swing. Swings are designed to safely hold only one person.
Safety on the Seesaw
Because see-saw use requires cooperation between kids, they're generally not recommended for preschoolers unless the see-saw has a spring-centering device to prevent abrupt contact with the ground. Regardless of design, both seesaws and merry-go-rounds should be approached with caution. Kids should always sit facing one another, not turned around. Teach kids to hold on tightly with both hands while on a see-saw, not to touch the ground or push off with their hands, and to keep feet to the sides, out from underneath the see-saw. Kids should stand back from a seesaw when it's in use. They should never stand beneath a raised see-saw, stand and rock in the middle, or try to climb onto it while it's in motion.
Safety on the Slides
Slides are safe if kids are careful when using them. Keep in mind the following; •Children should take one step at a time and hold onto the handrail when climbing the ladder to the top of the slide. They should not climb up the slide itself to get to the top. Kids should always slide down feet first and sitting up, never head first on their back or stomach. Kids should always check that the bottom of the slide is clear before sliding down. When they reach the bottom, they should get off and move away from the end of the slide so it's clear for other kids to slide down.
Safety on all Climbing Equipment
Climbing equipment comes in many shapes and sizes — including rock climbing walls, arches, and vertical and horizontal ladders. It's generally more challenging for kids than other kinds of playground equipment. Be sure your kids are aware of a safe way down in case they can't complete the climb. The highest rates of injuries on public playgrounds are associated with climbing equipment, which is dangerous if not designed or used properly. Adult supervision is especially important for younger kids. Climbing equipment can be used safely if kids are taught to use both hands and to stay well behind the person in front of them and beware of swinging feet. When they drop from the bars, kids should be able to jump down without hitting the equipment on the way down. Remind kids to have their knees bent and land on both feet.