When it comes to the playground, children need to be aware of how to stay safe. Many of the most common injuries for children are the ones they sustain out on the playground! That being the case, they should always know the basics of how to ensure safety and so should the responsible adults who are there to keep them out of danger. In the event that something does happen, fast first aid can help reduce the pain and accelerate recovery.
Basics of Playground Safety for Children
The most important part of play safety is ensuring that kids are supervised by adults at all times. Adults should regularly check out equipment to make sure all items are stable, free of splinters and debris, and at a safe temperature - this is especially important during hot summer afternoons. Avoid areas with lots of hard concrete or asphalt, debris, or any standing water.
Equipment must be spaced far enough apart that accidents are less likely, such as accidental collisions on swings or slides. The safest play areas offer a clear separation between play spaces for toddlers, those for preschoolers, and those for school-aged kids up to 12 years. Guard rails should be present on all items that kids are expected to climb, including slides.
Look closely at surfacing to make sure that the odds of injury are minimized. Soft, loosely packed surfacing such as sand, pea gravel, and mulch are good for cushioning falls, but inspect these to make sure there are no sanitary issues. Rubber mats can also be a highly safe alternative. No matter what, however, kids should be taught basic rules to avoid falls.
Enhance kids' safety by showing them how to use equipment properly and expecting them to follow all rules. They must not run in the play area, push other youngsters, or roughhouse. When using slides, seesaws, swings, and other items, be sure they check for kids in their path. Kids should be encouraged to use sunscreen and should always use helmets while riding bikes!
What to Know About First Aid for Kids
At home or outside, young people can become involved in unfortunate situations that require first aid. While most of these are minor, it's important to treat children as soon as possible when they are hurt. The exact type of first aid necessary varies considerably by the situation, but it is always best to make sure the child is calm before you proceed. Try to soothe a child before you take action, especially if you will need to touch the afflicted area, so they will not thrash or kick.
Cuts and bruises are the most common injury among kids. These must be carefully washed out with warm water and soap. The wound should be cleaned gently under running water until any dirt or debris can be fully removed. Dry the wound, treat it with disinfectant, and bandage it. If a wound is not bandaged promptly, it is much more likely to result in a scab. If the wound was the result of a metal object or encounter with an animal, seek medical attention.
Fevers generally indicate an infection, and should be monitored by an adult to ensure that they do not last too long or become too serious. Monitor a fever with a digital thermometer and seek assistance if it reaches or remains at 100 degrees for very young kids or 102 for older ones. In the early stages of a mild fever, it is okay to use ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease discomfort unless you have been advised otherwise. Ensure the child drinks plenty of fluid.
In the event of a sprain or fracture, parents can splint the area. The main sign of a fracture is difficulty moving the injured limb, but you should also take into account what the child was most recently doing to be more confident of your diagnosis. When there is swelling, pain, or apparent deformity, splinting can help. However, you should also contact a doctor right away. A child may benefit from a cast or brace to ensure that he or she will heal correctly and quickly.
For burns, bites, lasting fevers, convulsions and fainting, seek immediate medical attention. Be sure to let kids know about situations that can pose danger, such as the appearance of strange animals, and how they should get to safety. If older kids are playing without an adult, it's crucial each playmate knows how to quickly get in touch with a trusted adult. Generally, you should not attempt to move any child who appears to have a serious injury, especially a head injury.
- The National Play Safety Program
- Play Safety at KidsHealth
- Play Safety at CPSC
- Play Safety from NRPA
- Play Safety from the American Association of Pediatricians
- Handbook for Public Play Safety (PDF)
- Safety Issues Explained for Kids
- Injury-Free Safety at Play
- Safety Checklist for Parents (PDF)
- Pediatric Hospital of Philadelphia: Safety While Playing
- First Aid for Kids
- Basic First Aid Explained for Young People
- First Aid for Kids' Cuts and Scrapes
- Resources to Learn About First Aid for Kids
- Stocking a First Aid Kit
- A Parent's Guide to First Aid
- Teaching Your Kids About First Aid (PDF)
- Dealing With Scrapes and Wounds
- Full First Aid Procedures for Childhood Injuries
- First Aid for Kids' Colds