One day several years ago now, this frazzled mom headed to a local playground with my two-year-old and 3-month-old in tow to let my toddler burn off some energy. I was feeling like Zombie-Mom, existing on just a few hours of sleep most nights. Letting my oldest daughter run, jump, climb and play for the morning was my secret plan to get her to have a long afternoon nap so I might also catch a few winks myself.
While I was drinking my coffee, I saw a sign nearby that read, “Play equipment not intended for children under the age of 3.” I thought about this for a moment as I looked around and saw that there were plenty of other kids her age running about and screaming with delight that morning. It all seemed pretty harmless. And besides, I needed a break!
I didn’t see what happened that morning deep inside the play tunnel, but all I know is that my little girl came out crying and holding her arm in a funny position. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach dropped – I knew this was not good. After a long nap-less afternoon in the Emergency Department, the doctor confirmed what we had feared, my toddler’s arm was broken. Talk about mommy guilt!
What parents should know
I learned a few valuable lessons about playground safety that day and Parachute Canada has some recommendations that echo what I learned.
- Supervise, supervise, supervise!
- For children under 5 years of age – stand right beside them when they are playing on equipment above the ground
- Keep your child off equipment that is higher that 1.5 meters (5 feet)
- If your child cannot reach a piece of equipment, they should not use it
- Look for signs identifying the intended age group for the equipment and if your child is not old enough, they should not use it
A couple of things to keep in mind when at the playground with young children:
- They are more likely to get hurt because they are still learning the skills of balancing and climbing
- They are top heavy, so they are more likely to lose their balance and fall
- They don’t understand the risks and dangers of a playground
- Start young and teach your child the safety rules of using playground equipment
It is so important that kids get outside and play. They need to run, jump and climb as it is essential for their growth, development and health. Playgrounds can help children be active and healthy, but children need to play safely. Parents, you can help prevent your child from falling and getting hurt at the playground and supervision is key. I wish I had paid closer attention to these safety tips that day.
Spring is here, so go out and play – but be safe!