April 23 – 27 is National Playground Safety Week, a time to spread the word about the benefits of safe, free playgrounds. A long-term study, published in early April, warns that half of American preschool-aged children are not getting enough daily, supervised outdoor play. The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) and other play advocacy and safety organizations are building awareness this week in an effort to improve the health of children and increase activity on playgrounds nationwide. If regular, physical play begins at a young age, chances are it will continue with regular exercise through adulthood.
The National Program for Playground Safety asks families to check their playgrounds for safety hazards and report them to owners or authorities. National Playground Safety Week is the time to focus on children’s outdoor play environments. Here’s what you can do:
- Challenge your school to an injury-free week on the playground.
- Have a guest speaker to discuss safety on the playground.
- Check out local playgrounds.
- Write to the editor of your hometown newspaper commenting on any playground safety issues in your community.
- With children, have a maximum of five playground rules, ones that they will remember and follow.
- Playgrounds don’t become safer all by themselves. People should take action!
Each year over 200,000 children are injured on America’s playgrounds. Although some measures have been taken in recognition of this need, the National Program for Playground Safety was created in October, 1995, to help create a safe playground atmosphere. This week also serves as an opportunity for play advocates, parents, organizations, manufacturers and professionals to band together and spread national awareness of the importance of both play and play safety as necessities for healthy living.
In conclusion, here are some considerations from S.A.F.E.:
- Playground equipment should be properly maintained.
- The design of playgrounds should be age-appropriate.
- Fall surfacing under and around playgrounds should be furnished.
- Always provide proper supervision of children on playgrounds.
My daily walking route brings me by our local elementary school, and the playground is always full of children, playing games, using the equipment, and having a great time. I always thought that the squeals of happiness they make during this time resembles the same sounds you’d hear if they were at a carnival. The difference is that playgrounds are free and probably much safer – so let the kids enjoy them by keeping them safe, 52 weeks per year! If it’s a public playground, be sure to stay with your child.