Ten Playground Safety Tips for a Safer, More Enjoyable Visit
Few things in life are as light-hearted or downright joyful as the sound of children playing.
But when was the last time you heard it?
If it’s been too long, you can fix that– and relatively easily.
A trip to a playground is the perfect way to let your kids get enjoy some physical exercise, delight in some make-believe time, and burn off some energy. Before you head out, however, it makes sense to think about how to prepare everyone to be safe while having fun.
Here are our Top 10 Tips for Parents before heading out on a playground adventure. Let’s get the biggest three things out of the way first:
- Keep an eye on your kiddos. This may sound obvious, but supervising your children is the most important way to set the stage for a morning or afternoon of playground fun. Playgrounds are alluring, but the surrounding area can be tempting to toddlers and young children, too– make sure no one wanders. If you have older kids, it can be challenging to allow them to make friends and play independently, but it is possible to subtly monitor the interactions without hovering. As absolutely fundamental as this item is it bears repeating: always supervise your children at play.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings. Again, paying attention to your surroundings– whether it’s at a playground or anywhere else– seems as if it would be automatic. However, it can be tempting to close your eyes so you can enjoy a few moments of spring sun on your face, or check your messages on your phone quickly after snapping a few pictures. Even little things like these can quickly turn into longer periods of inattention in which anything can happen. From animals acting erratically to loitering strangers, be on the lookout for anything that could be threatening.
- Create Rules for Your Kids You can make sure your kids are using the equipment safely and appropriately while you are watching them play, but you should establish some other guidelines with them as well. For example, let them know that they should:
- Stay where you can see them.
- Check in with you if they want to play somewhere else.
- Come to you first before going to the restrooms or water fountains.
- Do check-ins every once in a while.
- Don’t talk to adults who are strangers.
Setting up some boundaries for your kids will allow all of you to enjoy your visit to the playground with minimal stress.
After the Big 3, everything else is logistics. For example, let’s talk about wardrobe:
- Require Closed-Toed Shoes. Wearing comfortable sneakers, walking shoes, or other closed-toed footwear is essential. Most playgrounds have “low impact” surfaces like mulch, sand, or other loose materials to help protect kids from injuries. Closed-toe shoes will keep this loose material from getting into sandals, “jelly” shoes and other shoes with perforated areas so kids can play more safely and in greater comfort.
- They’re Called Play Clothes for a Reason. As eager as your gang is to get to the park after church or school, take 5 minutes and have them change into clothes that will hold up to active play. You may think that swinging and sliding isn’t that strenuous or tough on clothing, but kids can usually find ways to make playground play more intense. Making sure they have the right clothes and footwear will go a long way toward keeping the peace and making sure everyone stays safe, comfortable and happy.
What to Bring
- Balls, Games & Sports Equipment. True, one of the reasons you’re going to the play space is for the kids to interact with the playground equipment. Chances are you’ll also find grassy areas that make perfect spots for playing outdoor games– especially if you live in an apartment or townhouse they may not have these types of areas nearby. Frisbees, a wiffle bat and ball, plastic horseshoes, portable corn hole– they all provide great options for kids if the equipment gets too crowded or they need a change of pace.
- Your Own Seating.. Now that the weather is beautiful and families are becoming more comfortable in a post-quarantine world, playgrounds are getting more crowded. Pack a blanket or a couple of camping chairs to sit on in case all the benches near the play equipment are taken, or all the available seating is in full sun. You will enjoy watching the kids play a lot more if you have a place to take a load off!
- Reusable Water Bottles. Gone are the days of communal water fountains. The risk of infection was just too great during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and who knows if “old-fashioned” water fountains will ever return? Don’t take a chance– bring your reusable water bottles with you. After a day on the playground, everyone needs to hydrate– and water is the absolute best choice!
- Snacks or Lunch. Even if you’re accustomed to buying food at a concession stand or snack shack, don’t count on it being open full-time just yet. Throw in some snacks to keep your gang energized and fueled up for the long haul. Small apples, packs of crackers, cheese sticks, trail mix– these are great choices for quick breaks or the ride home. Don’t forget a trash bag!
- Basic First Aid. In addition to sunscreen and bug spray, make sure you have some disinfectant wipes and band-aids of various sizes. Some anti-itch cream for bug bites or poison ivy is also a good idea. And, of course, if your kids are allergic to bee stings, foods, or anything else, you will always have the necessary supplies on hand.
Preparing yourself and your family for a trip to the playground doesn’t take long. Those few minutes you spend getting ready to go, packing your bag and the car, and– most of all–setting expectations for behavior will make all the difference in everyone’s enjoyment.