Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summertime Safety: At the Park

Little Miss and I had quite the adventure today at the park. It started out great. Then the sun got hot and the park got overrun with unruly children. But my favorite part - finding out that the sandbox was really a kitty litter box...yikes.

So on our way to wash our hands I found the mom of the little 18 month old who was playing in the sand alone and warned her of the poo I'd just found. When we came back from the restroom the mom was still sitting on the opposite side of the park talking with her friend and her daughter was still happily sifting through the poo box. What!?

About 20 minutes later that same little girl did a face plant on the not-so-friendly ground and was bleeding...I rudely interrupted her mother's important gab session to let her know her daughter was dripping on things as she walked around dazed.

Maybe my park angst goes back to my days as a playground duty - one of the best jobs I ever had. But really. There are just some things I don't think are okay at parks.

Climbing up slides (sorry to my sister Melly and the rest of you who let your kids do this). I just don't think it's cool. My sis-in-law broke her arm doing this, kids chip teeth, I've seen lots of kids get hurt. I especially hate it when kids climb up the tube slides - you can't see who's coming down.

This probably won't bother me as much when Little Miss isn't so little and susceptible to injuries from the big kids...I take that back. It will still bother me.

Second most hated park thing - not watching your children. The park and the other responsible parents are not a good babysitter. You don't have to be right behind them, they need independence - but have an eye on them please. They could be endangering themselves, or other kids, or getting kidnapped (thanks mom for indoctrinating me with worst-case-scenario fear when I was little).

Playing at the park with your children is a great time to teach make-believe, taking turns, patience, and appropriate behavior.

The CDC reports that 200,000 children visit the ER every year due to playground injuries - most of which could've been prevented with supervision...
  • About 45% of playground-related injuries are severe–fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations (Tinsworth 2001).
  • About 75% of nonfatal injuries related to playground equipment occur on public playgrounds (Tinsworth 2001). Most occur at schools and daycare centers (Phelan 2001).
  • Between 1990 and 2000, 147 children ages 14 and younger died from playground-related injuries. Of them, 82 (56%) died from strangulation and 31 (20%) died from falls to the playground surface. Most of these deaths (70%) occurred on home playgrounds (Tinsworth 2001).
Little Big Kids - a book (free printable pdf) for kids age 3-5 on playground safety.

How do you keep your kids (and other kids) safe at the park? What is okay? What isn't?

Other posts in this series:

Summertime Safety: Swimming


  1. I follow Ryan all around the park. It does bug me when kids are climbing up slides when we're trying to go down. I feel like saying You already got your turn! I will definitely be a lot more watchful than the mom you talked about. Sad.

  2. I hate it when parents don't watch their kids at the park! And the slide thing...when I was little I climbed up a slide that, unbeknown to me, had been sprayed with water. I slipped and split my chin open. Still have the scar. I'm totally with you there.

  3. I agree to watching your kids at the park. Watching more than one kid is definantly different and harder, especially when they are active boys. You can't see everything all the time, even if your trying your best to keep up with them.

    I've found you definitely have to pick your battles, if I don't I would be yelling at them constantly and that would be no fun for anyone. I usually don't go to the park by myself, it's too stressful. It is nice to have an extra pair of eyes to watch them. I like parks that don't have a lot of people in them. I sometimes brave a park by myself, I have to or else they would never get out of the hosue.

    Welly loves the sand and he surprisingly was okay with not playing in it that one day.

    I let Welly climb up the slide, unless I see its bugging other parents then I'll try and get him to stop, but really it's not a big deal to me. If he was hurting kids on the slide then I'd stop it. Or if I saw the situation was dangerous, then I'd stop him.

    I was a playground duty too, I think we had different experiences...I remember trying to show the kids a trick on the bars, sliding my feet across the ice (it was winter), it was probably a bad idea and I fell right on my bum, they thought it was hilarious.


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