By Suzi Schenkenberger
While playgrounds offer kids vital physical, cognitive and social interaction crucial for their development, they also offer an opportunity for injuries. As kids race back to playgrounds, here are 10 tips to help keep them safe — from germs and injuries.
1. Know the park rules. Before heading out, and to avoid disappointment, review updates from the local health department to understand pandemic orders and/or rules in each community.
2. Stay away from a crowded playground. It’s best to use a playground during off-peak times so children can maintain distance while playing. Adults who are supervising children also should be mindful of social distancing from others in and around the playground space.
3. Children should wear masks on the playground. The CDC recommends wearing masks at playgrounds. Face coverings are believed to reduce transmission of the virus. Remember, face coverings shouldn’t be placed on children age 2 and younger or those with sensory issues. Also, be sure to take breaks often and drink plenty of water to avoid overheating.
4. Keep hands clean and away from faces. Wash children’s hands before and after playtime, since the virus may spread when people touch contaminated objects and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If bathrooms aren’t nearby, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
5. Inspect the playground. Playgrounds haven’t been in use since before the winter months, so take a look around to make sure the playground is clean and well-maintained. Report problems to the park if you see issues.
6. Make sure equipment is age-appropriate. Playground equipment is typically designed for three different age groups: kids under 2, 2- to 5-year-olds, and 5- to 12-year-olds. Make sure children use equipment that’s right for their age.
7. Avoid lapses in supervision. Make the playground a phone-free zone. Be present and engaged while kids are playing to help prevent injuries. Young kids can’t always gauge distances properly and aren’t capable of foreseeing dangerous situations by themselves.
8. Teach children about playground safety. Remind kids how to use equipment safely, keep distance between others — no pushing or roughhousing — and stay out of the path of moving equipment such as swings.
9. Dress kids for safe play. Make sure children wear appropriate shoes with traction and that laces are tied. Also, don’t dress them in clothes with drawstrings, scarves or anything else that dangles, which can get caught on equipment accidentally.
10. Beware of hot surfaces. Some equipment, such as slides, swings and stairs, can heat up to extreme temperatures in the hot summer months, so be sure to check them before play.
Visit akronchildrens.org for more information