How Safe Is Junior at Play? (cont.)

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the following tips can help prevent injuries:

  • Avoid playgrounds that have asphalt, concrete, hard-packed dirt, or grass surfaces. Safe surfaces have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea-sized gravel, or are made of safety-tested, rubber-like materials.
  • Don't allow your child on equipment with open "S" hooks or protruding bolt ends. Check for bolts that project outward horizontally, particularly from the top of a slide, since the drawstring from a hooded sweatshirt or coat can easily catch on a piece of equipment and cause a child to strangle.
  • Steer children to equipment under 4 feet high if they are less than 5 years old.
  • Avoid any equipment with openings that could entrap a child's head. To prevent a child from going through feet first and getting his or her head stuck, minimum spacing between bars should be less than 3.5 inches or greater than 9 inches.
  • Swing seats should be made of plastic or rubber; avoid hard materials like metal or wood.
  • Be sure you can clearly see your children on the playground -- and that your children can also see you.

Eileen Garred is a senior editor at Child magazine and a former reporter for Time magazine. She lives in New York and is the mother of one child.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/30/2005 11:01:13 PM