It never fails, whenever the sun is out kids,and often their parents, are at the park soaking in the sun and having fun on the slides, monkey bars and swings. What could be better for our kids that getting exercise and being active outside? This statement is true but park playgrounds can have their risks.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), two thirds of the number of injuries in which children were taken to the ER from 2005 thru 2013, were caused from children falling from swings, slides and overhead ladders. The CDC also reported that 20,000 kids ages 14 and over come to the ER every year for playground-related brain injuries.

Playgrounds have changed a lot over the last 40 years and have become safer than ever before. It’s hard to believe that playgrounds were ever built on cement with tall metal slides, swings, and monkey bars, extremely hot under summer sun hovering over hard surfaces that would cause certain injury. Today’s playgrounds are built with a number of different materials including plastic and are designed with the whole child in mind. They are designed to help the child develop physically and even socially.

While playgrounds are safer than ever before, hazards still exist. Our safety checklist can help avoid potential problems.

It’s surprising that despite all of the improvements to playgrounds over the last several years a recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that 20,000 kids 14 and younger come to the ER every year for playground related brain injuries. About 2/3 of these injuries are cause by falls from swings, slides, and overhead ladders. Even more alarming, The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says that in a study that ER visits increased substantially from 2005-2013.

So what can parents do to make sure that these statistics don’t involve their child? Here are some ideas that will help keep your child safe this year at the park.

1. Evaluate the playground surface. Only play at playgrounds with safety-rated surfaces that reduce injury like wood chips, sand, or pea gravel. Avoid playgrounds with asphalt, concrete, or grass as a surface below playground equipment. You may think that the playground surface doesn’t matter, that your child isn’t going to fall. But keep in mind that no parent takes their kids to the park expecting them to fall.

Our products, Sof’Fall and Sof’Bounce, are incredible options. Sof’Fall is a specialized type of wood chip. When 8-12” deep, it is rated for falls up to 25 feet and has a 10 year warranty. Sof’Bounce is shredded tires. It has a 50 year warrantee and can cushion falls for up to 13 feet. Both are great options for keeping playgrounds safe and are rated much higher than typical surfaces.

2. Look for tripping hazards. Look for tree roots, pieces of metal or anything sticking up that can be a hazard for your kids. Warn your kids or avoid areas with these hazards.

3. Evaluate guard rails. Make sure playground equipment has appropriate guard rails to protect kids, especially when they are up high.

4. Closely supervise your kids. As parents, it is tempting to sit down at a park bench, breathe a sigh of relief, pull out a smart phone, and look up every once in a while. Kids that are more closely supervised build relationships with their parents and are safer because parents help them avoid falls. Parents can also help kids socially avoid conflicts, share, and have a positive experience.

So if you are looking to upgrade your backyard playground’s surface, or if you are concerned about the playground surface at your kids’ favorite park, look into our Sof’Fall safety surface products. We want your kids to have fun while playing and to be as safe as possible.

[U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Injuries and investigated deaths associated with playground equipment, 2001-2008. Published October 29, 2009. Accessed April 26, 2016.]

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