Summer for many Americans is a time for outdoor activities, including trips to playgrounds with children. The nation's emergency physicians encourage everyone to have fun and stay active in parks and playgrounds throughout the summer, but urge parents and guardians of children to be aware of injuries that can occur in a matter of seconds if everyone's not careful.
"In many cases, a playground injury may include a minor cut or a scrape," said Dr. Angela Gardner, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "But parents need to be aware that playground injuries can be much more serious, even fatal. Every year, emergency physicians see more than 200,000 children coming from a playground with head, neck and spinal cord injuries, internal bleeding and strangulation."
Facts about Playground Injuries:
- Nearly 80 percent of all injuries were caused by falls, according to the National Playground Safety Institute.
- About 45 percent of playground-related injuries are severe and include fractures, internal injuries, concussions and dislocations, according to CDC.
- About 75 percent of nonfatal injuries involving playground equipment occur on public playgrounds, most of which are at schools and daycare centers.
Preventing Playground Injuries:
- Closely supervise any young child on a playground. Older children also need adult supervision.
- Make sure the playground facility is properly maintained. Are their broken pieces of equipment? Is there trash or broken bottles nearby that can cause injuries? Does the playground have adequate cushioning to prevent injury?
- Children should never crowd the playground. If you cannot safely monitor a child because too many children are using the equipment, choose another time to play.
- Make sure the playground equipment is age appropriate. Younger children get injured playing on equipment that is meant for older children.
- Older children should stay away from playground equipment reserved for younger children to avoid injuring those who are physically smaller. Areas for preschool children should be separate from the areas of school-age children.
- Children should not wear hoods or clothing with strings. These can create choking hazards.
- Teach your child to follow safety rules. Children should not run, push or shove others while on a playground. They also should not walk in the path of a moving swing or climb a slide instead of using the ladder.
"A playground should be a safe place for a child to have fun this summer," said Dr. Gardner. "Many injuries and visits to the emergency room can be avoided if parents will be mindful of the risks and if they will teach their children to obey safety rules."
American College of Emergency Physicians