Summer is a time when children play outdoors and enjoy playground equipment. Playgrounds should be safe places where parents are assured that their children can play without the fear of getting hurt. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 children are treated each year in the United States for injuries sustained in playgrounds. This statistic indicates that playgrounds are certainly not as safe as many parents think they are.
Falls are Common
Falls are the most common cause of playground injuries in children. Falls can occur from jumping, running, skipping, or just by walking. Most falls are minor and may result in slight injuries like skinned knees or bruises. Sometimes, however, the injuries are very serious and may require extensive medical treatment. In some instances, a child dies from injuries in a playground.
Types of Injuries
There are many different types of injuries reported as a result of playground accidents. These include:
- Internal Injuries
Certainly, serious injuries on playgrounds are concerning, especially for parents. Children who suffer from injuries may need additional treatment or surgery in addition to the initial diagnosis and testing required.
The ground that the equipment is built upon is important in the reduction of injuries from falls. Falls may also occur on the equipment itself or on the nearby areas. Simply placing some wood chips on top of the ground will not suffice because it does not provide enough protection from injuries. The entire area needs to be excavated and a large layer of chips or other material must be used. Some recent information indicates that recycled rubber chips may be a good and safe alternative to wood chips.
Playground equipment requires regular inspection and maintenance. This is to ensure that any problems are noted quickly and if repairs are needed that they are made before children play on the equipment. Failure to inspect playgrounds can result in injuries because children continue to play on damaged or dangerous equipment.
It is important to note that the fill material used as the playground floor must be replaced and supplemented to on a regular basis. The old chips or other materials can settle over time and may wash away during rain. This means that the playground loses much of its protective element if this material is not restored.
From time to time, playground equipment is recalled, just like other toys. Owners of playground equipment need to continually check to make sure that their specific equipment is not part of a recall. Owners must keep original documentation from the purchase so that they know the manufacturer and can check the website. If a recall is noted, the equipment must be immediately removed from use and replaced with safe items.
Playground owners or managers should provide rules for safe play at the entrance to the park. The rules should be clearly stated so that both adults and children can understand them. For instance, if some items in the park are designed only for use by young children, note the age restrictions. Also include the hours that the park is open. Some injuries may occur outside of the operation time of the park. Parents need to follow the instructions provided.
Injuries at School
Most of the playground injuries that are reported occur at a school or daycare facility. In fact, approximately 75 percent of injuries that were non-fatal happened at school or daycare playgrounds. Schools and other facilities are required to provide a safe environment for children when they play. Proper supervision is necessary for safe park play. If a school or daycare does not offer enough care, children can get hurt. This can happen more frequently when kids play improperly on the equipment and do not use it for the intended purpose.
Types of Equipment
The swing set is one of the most popular pieces of equipment on the playground, but it is also noted to have the most related injuries. Children can fall from the swings or hurt themselves on the seat. Children may be hit by kids who are swinging if they pass in front of them. Small children should be supervised on the swings at all times.
Climbing equipment is also the source of injuries. Children who climb on jungle gyms or similar apparatus can fall. Falls from these types of equipment can cause broken bones and other injuries such as head trauma. Slides and poles can also cause falls, especially if they are wet.
Preventing Playground Injuries
There are a number of things that parents can do to try to prevent playground injuries from occurring.
- Supervise children at all times;
- Do not promote running;
- Teach basic playground safety to children;
- Allow for use of age-appropriate equipment only;
- Do not allow play in the rain;
- Allow playground use during daylight hours only;
- Assist small children on new equipment;
- Report dangerous equipment; and
- Enforce all playground rules.
If the playground becomes overcrowded or the children become unruly, remove your child from play immediately and wait until the commotion subsides or return another day. When allowing your children to play at a school or daycare, be sure that the equipment looks safe. Take some time to observe the use of the equipment to ensure that adequate supervision is provided.
Legal Help for Playground Injuries
If your child was injured at a playground you may be entitled to compensation. Children should not be hurt while playing at parks. When an injury happens, it may be due to the negligence of another. If so, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident. Seek medical treatment for your child immediately and contact the playground owners or managers to make a report. In situations where your child was seriously hurt, the expenses may be astronomical. Contact the skilled personal injury attorneys in Columbia at the Connell Law Firm to learn your options today.