Caregivers Should Be Concerned About Playground Safety

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/19/2005 10:28:28 PM

News Release Distributed May 2004

Outdoor injuries are the leading cause of injuries to young children in school or child-care environments, so playground safety definitely should be a concern in a child-care setting, says LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.

Gioe says outdoor play is a favorite activity for most young children. Even more, playing outdoors provides the opportunity for young children to use and develop their large muscles while running, climbing, skipping, hopping, throwing, catching, digging and riding bikes or tricycles.

That means keeping children inside definitely isn’t the answer in the quest to keep them safe from injuries, but better supervision could be one of the better options, Gioe says.

"Approximately 40 percent of the outdoor injuries to children are due to poor adult supervision," Gioe explains, adding, "That means supervision is an essential component of playground safety."

The LSU AgCenter expert says all child-care programs should have a detailed supervision plan for outdoor play and the plan should cover such topics as a specific ratio of children to adults, playground safety training, the center’s supervision philosophy, ways to handle conflict resolution, inspection checklists, a maintenance plan, playground rules, teaching plans and injury procedures.

Gioe also says to keep these playground safety issues in mind when you tour child-care centers or when you are preparing your child for playground time:

–70 percent of all playground accidents are related to falls to the surface, so it is important that playgrounds have cushioned surfaces such as fiber chips, mulch, pea gravel, sand or shredded rubber at a depth of 12 inches beneath and around equipment.

–Equipment should be age-appropriate for the children playing on the playground.

–Equipment should be anchored and in good working order.

–S-hooks on swings should be entirely closed.

–Bolts should be tight and should not protrude from structures.

–Slats in tree houses or forts should be close enough so that children may not fall through or get their heads stuck between them.

–Strings and ropes should not be present on playgrounds.

–Children should not wear clothing that has strings around the neck.

–Children should wear tightly fitting, closed-toed shoes for protection.

–Shaded areas should be available to children. In Louisiana, sun exposure can be hazardous to children, so you may want to consider whether sunscreen can be applied to your child by center personnel if you provide written permission.

–Water should be available to children at all times when playing outdoors.

The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contacts: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor:      Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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