Avoid Playground Injuries This Summer

Awareness is the first step to preventing serious playground injuries. We identify the most common causes of playground accidents, with suggestions to help you keep your children safe.

Every child looks forward eagerly to the end of the school year, and the start of summer vacation. Playgrounds can be a wonderful place for children to develop dexterity, make new friends, and explore inventive ideas for creative play.

Like any other physical exercise, playground activities also carry a risk of injury. Mishaps range from minor cuts and bruises to more serious fractures and life-threatening harm. Every year, the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 156,000 children under the age of 14 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground injuries. Approximately 45 percent of these injuries are severe, including:

  • Fractures
  • Internal injuries
  • Concussions
  • Dislocations
  • Amputations

With awareness, caution, and a few preventative measures, many of these accidents can be avoided. Most injuries happen around climbing equipment and swings. Let’s start by understanding what the most common injuries are, and how they typically happen.

  • Falls. Almost 80 percent of equipment-related accidents on the playground happen when children fall. They may slip, lose their grip, lose their balance, or catch clothing, a shoelace, or a drawstring on equipment as they play. Children can be hurt not only by impact with the ground, but also by being struck by other equipment as they fall. The injury that most frequently leads to an emergency room visit is an elbow fracture as children reach out instinctively to try to break their fall and protect themselves.
  • Slides. Slide injuries are frequent, and typically happen when a child’s leg is caught or twisted during the ride down the slide. A 2009 study emphasized the need for caution when adults ride down a slide with a child in their lap. Children’s legs can become stuck during the slide descent when it is difficult for the adult to stop moving.
  • Equipment impact. Other injuries are the result of children falling on or being hit by sharp equipment edges. These injuries can happen when a child is playing in a jungle gym, or on teeter-totters and seesaws.

The best way to prevent or minimize these injuries is through attentive adult supervision. Check the playground for hazards, accompany young children as they play, and help them understand playground rules and equipment use.

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