It is estimated that approximately 200,000 playground-related injuries involve children in the United States each year. Most of these injuries occur when the child falls from the playground equipment onto the ground.
There are several steps that you as a parent can take to keep your toddler safe on playgrounds. Most importantly, you need to keep a watchful eye on your young child while she is playing. Children at this age love to explore and they can get away from you quickly if you are not watching carefully. If your toddler attends daycare, you should check to make sure that the children are always under adult supervision while on the playground.
It is also important that the playground surface that your child plays on is covered with shock- absorbing materials such as shredded rubber, wood chips, wood fiber and sand; this will reduce injuries related to falls. Dirt and grass, which are the most prevalent surfaces under home playground equipment, will not adequately protect your toddler from serious head injuries.
Additional checks that you can do to make sure playground equipment is safe for your toddler include: checking for sharp points and or protruding edges; making sure that the equipment (e.g., swings, guardrails) is sturdy and secure; checking for spaces that could trap children (e.g., openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs); and removing tripping hazards such as exposed tree stumps or rocks.
Finally, it is important that you allow your toddler to play only on age-appropriate playground equipment and that you purchase equipment that meets the latest safety standards. You can visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Website for more information.