(photo credit: Courtesy)
Forty percent of the young children injured in playgrounds had no proper adult
supervision, according to Beterem – The National Center for Children’s Safety
and Health, which next week is sponsoring a media campaign to increase awareness
of the dangers.
The campaign, called “Eyes Open Wide; Don’t Take Your
Eyes Off Children in the Playground,” is aimed at reducing the number of child
accidents near the home, especially in playgrounds, when the school vacation
The non-profit organization said on Thursday that falling is the
most common injury of this type (40%), followed by being hit by an object (28%),
being cut or stabbed by an object (9.5%), being caught in an object (9.5%),
choking (5%) and burns (2%). The most dangerous object causing injuries were
slides (49%), seesaws (31%), and trampolines (6%), with other injuries from
ladders, exercise equipment, climbing installations, inflated devices and
carousels. Ages birth to four were the most dangerous.
playgrounds are supposed to be pure fun and good for muscular and motor
development, their use entails risk if children are not properly supervised
there, said Beterem. But many of playgrounds, which are the responsibility of
municipalities and other authorities, are not safe, especially if they are
poorly maintained and do not meet official standards. Young children have very
little ability to recognize dangerous situations in playgrounds.
Beterem study between 2001 and 2008 of hospital emergency room data on child
injuries found that almost a third of the playground injuries resulted from the
absence of adults; in a fifth of cases, an adult was present but did not pay
attention; in 43% of cases, the adult saw the child but did not or was unable to
prevent the injury. The most deadly injuries resulted from the child’s neck or
head being caught in a playground installation, but the most frequent causes of
injuries was from falls. Boys were involved in 54% of the injuries.
older the children – even if they were only five years old – the less likely
they were to be supervised by an adult.
While the playground
installations were used by 60% of the children, the rest ran, played ball or
tag, rode bicycles, sat or walked. Of those observed on installations, a third
played in an unsafe way or on an installation not suited to the child’s age.
Climbing slides and going in the opposite direction was regarded as dangerous,
as was climbing on installations not meant for that purpose. Some children
impatient with queues pushed others, causing injury, while others were hurt by
choking on food while playing.
Beterem urges parents and child-minders to
examine playground facilities before letting children play, to make sure they
are safe and suitable to their ages. If not, report this to the
Choose installations that are in the shade, as many are
made of metal that can cause burns to skin in hot sun.
Stay close to and
within constant visual contact of all children under the age of four. Do not
allow them to play if they have strings, long hair, baggy pants or other objects
that can get caught.
Don’t let children use installations for a purpose
they were not meant to be used for. By law – albeit often not observed – all
installations must have a sign stating the ages appropriate for them. Do not let
children use them if they are broken or rusty.
Some local authorities,
including those in Netanya, Herzliya, Hod Hasharon, Rishon Lezion, Bat Yam,
Ashdod, Dimona, Beersheba, Katzrin and Hatzor in the Galilee have arranged for
volunteers to hand out informative folders on playgrounds on site. For more
information and a quiz on playground safety, see www.beterem.org.