Here are some ideas on how to have fun and stay safe on the playground.
Actively Supervise Young Children
Stay close enough to your child so that that you can take action if needed. This means watching, listening and paying attention to what your child is doing. How close you need to be depends on your child’s age. For young children, it is best (and fun!) if you play with them.
Children under 5 years of age should be within an arm’s reach when climbing on heights above the ground or playing on a swing.
Choose the Right Equipment for your Child’s Age
Check the age recommendations of the play equipment. Look for a sign or a label on the play equipment posts for this information.
- 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 1.5 metres (5 feet). If the child cannot get up on the equipment without help, it is too large!
- Play equipment higher than 1.5 metres (5 feet) should have barriers or guard rails to prevent falls and should only be used by older children.
Check the Surfacing
Proper surfacing will absorb the impact if your child falls. Look for:
- Playgrounds should have a deep, soft surfacing (not dirt or grass) to reduce the risk of a serious injury from a fall. Common surfacing includes sand, pea gravel, shredded bark mulch, wood chips, rubber mulch or synthetic surfaces.
- Equipment for toddlers should have surfacing that is at least 16 centimetres (6 inches) deep (if using loose-fill material) and extend 1 metre (3 feet) from all sides of the play structure.
- Equipment for older children should have surfacing that is at least 32 centimetres (12 inches) deep and extend 2 metres (6 feet) from all sides of the play structure.
Use a Checklist
There are many checklists available to help you assess the safety of your local playground. Here are a couple of good ones.
Loose items can get caught on play equipment and strangle a child! To keep your child safe:
- Remove helmets before playing on equipment.
- Choose neck warmers instead of scarves.
- Avoid clothing with drawstrings or cords such as hoodies, mittens with strings.
- Never tie anything like a skipping rope to the play structure.
Teach your Children Playground Rules
Review playground rules with your child at home and again when you get to the playground.
Common playground rules:
- No sitting on guard rails or barriers
- Wait your turn
- Slide down feet first
- Hold on to railings and no climbing on them
- No pushing or shoving
- No bike helmets
- No clothes with strings (hoodies or jackets)
- Nothing tied to the play structure
- Don’t touch needles, lighters or other hazards that have been thrown away- tell your parent or another adult so they can safely throw it out in sealed, puncture proof container
A word about slides
Never place a small child on an adult lap going down a slide. Adults may think it is safer to go down the slide with their toddler in their laps. This puts the child at risk of a broken lower leg (shin bone). Instead, choose a short slide that is recommended for your child’s age and supervise while your child goes down alone.
Report Safety Concerns
If you find broken play equipment, poor surfacing or have other safety concerns, report it to the owner or operator of the playground. This may be:
- City, town or municipality. Call 311 for City of Winnipeg operated playgrounds.
- Child care centre
- Provincial park
- Non-profit organization or commercial establishment
- Housing manager or landlord