Whether your kids are playing at the neighbourhood park, school playground, or on the backyard swing set, there are ways you can have fun and prevent playground injuries.
Active supervision means being right beside your child!
- Make a habit of supervising your children at the playground.
- If your child is under 5 years of age, stay within arm’s reach at all times when they are on raised playground equipment.
Select the Right Equipment for your Child’s Age
Check the age limit labels on the play equipment. These labels are usually on the play equipment supports or posts.
- Only use equipment that is designed for your child’s age and size.
- For children less than 5 years of age, choose equipment that is not over 5’ high. If the child cannot get up on the equipment without help, it is too large!
- Play equipment higher than 5’ high should have barriers or guard rails to prevent falls and should only be used by older children.
Check for Soft Surfacing
Check the surfacing materials at the playgrounds to make sure it meets the Canadian Standards Association Guidelines.
- While some public playgrounds use synthetic surfaces, most use loose materials like sand, pea gravel, shredded bark mulch, wood chip nuggets and rubber mulch. These can all reduce the risk of a serious injury from playground falls.
- Equipment for toddlers should have surfacing that is at least 6” deep (if using loose-fill material) and extend 3’ from all sides of the play structure.
- Equipment for older children should have surfacing that is at least 12” deep and extend 6’ from all sides of the play structure.
Use a checklist to check the safety of your playground
There are many checklists available to help you determine the safety of your local playground.
- Take the Playground Safety YES Test at your local playground.
- A Keep Kids Safe: Parent’s Guide to Playground Safety includes a checklist, as well as tips for playing safe at the playground.
- The US Consumer Product Safety Commission publishes the Public Playground Safety Checklist.
Teach your children playground rules
Review playground rules with your child and go over them again when you are at the playground.
- Helmets, scarves and drawstrings can cause strangulation on play equipment. Take off helmets when playing on the equipment, use neck warmers instead of scarves, and avoid clothing with drawstrings or cords.
- Never tie anything like a skipping rope to the play structure.
- Children should not sit on guard rails or barriers or climb on railings.
Report safety concerns
Playground safety concerns should be reported.
- Contact the school, city/town, child care centre, provincial park, church, non-profit organization or commercial establishment who owns or operates the playground if you have any safety concerns. (Call 311 for City of Winnipeg operated playgrounds.)
Try a natural alternative
Explore natural places to play in your community, such as parks, paths and trails, instead of traditional play equipment.
- Encourage running, jumping, skipping and hopping. Play tag, throw a Frisbee, fly a kite or do other active games with your child.
- Bring a nature checklist, bug container, magnifying glass or binoculars.
- Visit www.greenheartsinc.org for a Parents Guide to Nature Play, and check out www.childrenandnature.org and www.nwf.org/GreenHour for more ideas about natural play and to learn about the health benefits.