Guest post by Ella Hendrix, a freelance writer. Kids love to hide away in their rooms and play computer games with their friends online. If they are not doing this, there is a good chance they are traipsing around the house, only paying attention to the tablet they are carrying. It's fine for kids to enjoy this type of fun some of the time, but they also need to spend some time outside. Running around outside helps kids to keep fit and healthy. At a time when childhood obesity is a major concern this is important. However, if your kids do play outside, you need to make sure that they are safe. Play areas that are not well-planned and that are not created using safe materials, are a risk to any child.
Why is it so important to consider safety?
It's true that kids will always get bumps and scrapes along the way, but you need to do all that you can to reduce the risk of any injury, especially one that has more serious consequences. If you want to create a play area that is safe for your kids to use, you need to put time and thought into how it's put together. You can never 100% guarantee that a child will be completely safe, but making the effort helps to make it a lot less likely that serious accidents will happen.
What to think about when creating a safe play area
One of the foremost considerations, when you are creating an outdoor play area for kids, is the surface that you choose. You need to ensure that the ground is level and firm underfoot; there should be no dangerous dips where kids can trip. According to Provincial Rubber, rubber matting is a great choice to cover the area. It's a comfortable material for kids to run on, and provides protection if they fall. You can choose rubber matting that is ribbed, providing additional protection against slips. It's an affordable and easy to clean surface that is safe for your kids to play on. It's not just the floor that you need to think about when you are creating a child-safe playground. There are other factors that you need to consider.
- Areas of water, such as garden ponds, should be filled in or safely fenced off. Garden pond drownings do happen, so you need to protect your kids and their friends.
- Young children should not have any access to roads. Remember that even quiet roads can be dangerous if a child runs in front of a car.
- Overhanging branches should be cut down so that there is no risk of them falling.
- The play area should be spacious enough to enable safe activity on all play items without children bumping into one another.
Choosing safe items to use on the playground
Beware of buying second hand playground kit, unless you are certain that it's in a safe condition. Buying new means that you can choose to invest in a reputable brand. There is still a slight chance of problems with the swings and slides that you buy, but they are less likely to happen. There are some useful tips to remember when you are buying items for a children's play area.
- Make sure that wooden items are treated using safe chemicals. This means that they are not going to rot and fall apart and that your kids do not come into contact with any toxic substances.
- Make sure that joints are made from non-corrosive metal.
- Keep an eye out for anywhere on play equipment where little hands, feet, fingers and toes can get stuck.
- Choose play items which have handles with a textured grip for additional safety.
- Choose play equipment that is appropriate to the age of the children that are using the play area. No matter how much it's wanted by the kids, equipment that is too advanced can be dangerous.
Once you have set the play area up, it's a good idea to supervise younger children as they play. They do not have the sense of danger that you do, so it's easy for them to take chances and get hurt. Hopefully, this will not happen, but if you are there to supervise you can make sure that your kids play safely. A safe play area is an excellent addition to any home. It's a place where kids can get away from computers and tablets, run around having fun and burning up all that excess energy.
Ella Hendrix is a versatile freelance writer who specialises in content ranging from parenting strategy and family psychology to children’s activities and playroom design.