With the new-found spring bringing flowers and sun outside, kids are heading back to Whatcom County’s many playgrounds. It’s been a long winter here in Bellingham, and playgrounds bring relief to parents and kids alike. Unfortunately this post is about the downside of playgrounds, and the shocking number of accidents that happen to kids on them every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. The injuries are worse than just cuts and scrapes, too – concussions, broken bones, amputations and dislocations. Slides and swings are the most common offenders, with more than 70% of serious injuries occurring on them. It’s a small number but not if it happens to your family: 15 kids die each year from their injuries. Half of those die from strangulation, and a quarter from falls. Home playgrounds are the most dangerous, as they often don’t have City Parks and Rec officials checking on their safety features and keeping up with the latest advice on keeping kids safe.
There are things every parent or caretaker of kids should do to keep kids safe while playing on this equipment:
- Talk with your kids. Tell them about safety rules before they run off to play.
- Do not run in front of moving swings or teeter totters.
- Slides can be dangerous if not properly used. They’re meant for one person at a time to go down them, feet first. When you reach the bottom, move away from the slide immediately.
- Adult supervision is the key to safety. Kids younger than five years old need to be watched at every moment. Older kids can still get into trouble quickly and should be watched.
- Avoid playgrounds that lack shock-absorbing materials on the ground, such as rubber mats or bark mulch, engineered wood fibers, shredded rubber, sand or pea gravel with a minimal depth of six inches.
- If a playground is too busy, avoid it. Kids need to be able to easily get off and away from slides and other equipment.
- Swing seats should be intact, and made of plastic or rubber. Metal or wood seats are dangerous.
- Keep things age-appropriate. Don’t let younger kids play on equipment intended for older kids.
- Kids love to stick their heads in things like blocks or in between rails. Make sure they’re not able to get stuck in them.
- Don’t go down a slide while holding a baby or toddler in your lap.
- Check the temperature of playground equipment surfaces. Especially if they are made of metal or black plastic, they can get hot and cause a burn injury.
- Remove necklaces and hoodie strings, and avoid loose fitting clothing that could get caught on playground equipment. However, those kids that are stuck wearing a helmet at Dad’s insistence? That’s not advised; the straps could catch on something and cause serious trauma to the neck and spine.
- Proper footwear is essential. Avoid barefeet or flip flops.
If your child has been injured, you’re facing a mountain of hardships. It’s never easy when a loved one is hurt, but when that is a child, it’s unimaginable. Bill Coats Law has worked with the families of kids who have been hurt or killed, and can understand what you’re going through. Accidents happen, but when they are due to someone else’s negligence, someone must be held accountable. Call us today if you need help.