You would never let your children play with sharp knives, but sometimes there are hidden hazards at the park you may not be aware of. We went to one playground in Sioux Falls with a Family Life Expert so you know what to look for.
The playground equipment outside John Harris Elementary School in Laurel Oak Park is a good example of what age appropriate safe playground equipment should look like, but not every community can afford these.
There are three different sets. The one for toddlers has equipment low to the ground and the base covering the ground is sand.
Avera McKennan Certified Family Life Educator Doniese Wilcox says, "You might want to buy a little hand rake and dig for hidden hazards under the slide where your child might land before they go down."
What they land on is important. According to the National Safety Council nearly 8 out of 10 playground injuries were the result of falls. Doniese Wilcox says wood chips are good option for the preschool age kids. Sioux Falls city crews are diligent about filling in washed out areas after a heavy rain (which we had the night before we shot our story).
Wilcox says, "Dirt and grass are not good bases because once they get compacted they can be as hard and as hazardous as cement."
Watch the toddlers in this area since they tend to put everything in their mouths, the wood chips could be a choking hazard. The equipment nearest the school is designed for elementary aged kids. It's a little more challenging and higher off the ground and also has the wood chips.
Wilcox says, "You also want to pay attention to the openings on the equipment. You want it to be less than 3 1/2 inches so their head can't get stuck or greater than 9" so their whole body including their head can get through."
Jumping rope is great exercise just make sure the kids don't take it on the playground with them. It could get entangled around their neck or on the equipment.. The same goes for dangling jewelry. Save it for dress up at home.
We all want our kids to have fun this summer just do a "once over" or supervise them while they are playing so they are swinging in safety and not sliding down into danger.
Something else to keep in mind before the kids take off for the park is to make sure the sweatshirt they are wearing doesn't have a drawstring. Kids clothing, by law, cannot. But as you may know, a lot of kids can fit in to adult sizes and those do have draw strings. If they fell and the string got caught in the equipment it could be dangerous so pull them out before they head out.
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