Recognizing hidden playground hazards -

Hidden playground hazards

Playgrounds may be for fun and games, but they can be very dangerous if not properly maintained and monitored. About one-third of all playground accidents result in severe injuries including fractures, concussions, dislocations and amputations. 

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission issued several recent warnings that some playgrounds pose a very real threat to your child's safety.

As surprising as it is, about 15 children die each year in playground accidents.

Playground safety is the top priority for Michael Shull, superintendent of planning, construction and maintenance for the Los Angeles Parks Department. 

"There are hazards in any community or any park, things we can't predict, things we can't prevent," says Shull. 

Most public places are as safe as they can be in Shull's view. Yet the ultimate responsibility still lies with the parent. Shull strongly recommends that every parent should run a safety check before allowing their child on the playground. He says look for the general cleanliness of any playground.  Appearance will tell you a lot about how well it's maintained.

Playground inspectors are constantly on the lookout for child safety hazards. Inspectors check the depth of the sand around the structures and especially under the slides. 

When your child wants to swing, look for swings hung in no more than two in a bay -- that is to say, two swings side by side, not three or more.  The concern is a child jumping from the swing being struck by another child. In addition, a careful parent will always check for gaps between steps and railings. A gap too large can trap the head of an inquisitive child and cause a major scare.

Although it might seem protective, one thing you don't want your child wearing on the playground is a helmet. There are certain areas of the playground a child could catch his or her head.

Shockingly, over 50 percent of playground deaths are due to strangulation caused by children's clothing.  The recommendation is to avoid clothing on the loose side.  Tighter fitting clothes will keep children from getting tangled in the play equipment which can cause a strangulation hazard.  It doesn't take much to keep your child safe at the park.  A checklist of the important items above and a vigilant attitude will make your day at the park a happy and safe one.

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