Guest Post by Lindy Howard
A parent’s worst nightmare is to find their child has been hurt on a playground or to find that the child has vanished. The horrific thoughts that cross a parent’s mind, as well as the guilt that is felt afterward, can haunt a parent for a lifetime. Parents are a child’s first line of defense against accidents and predators.
There are some easy things to do to keep your children safe, sound, and happy, while still allowing them to enjoy their time at a playground:
Clear Line of Sight
Clear line of sight is sometimes overlooked in playgrounds, particularly those that are spread out over a large area. Parents lose sight of their children because the play sets are spread far apart or are divided by buildings or trees.
Parents should position themselves so that they can quickly scan for their children. Children could even be dressed in unique ways or in bright colors so that the parent can spot them easily, even in a crowd. By watching over the children, it is less likely for them to wander off. A parent can intervene if they see dangerous behavior occurring.
Checking the Equipment
Both public and backyard playgrounds should all have their equipment checked on a regular basis. If a parent spots rust, broken wood, rot, or other signs of neglect or abuse, they can stop their children from playing on those pieces of equipment.
If a parent’s untrained eye can spot a potential problem, then it should be brought to the park’s management. If it is a private playground, a parent can restrict access to the unsafe equipment until it is repaired or replaced.
Use the Buddy System
Playgrounds are always more fun with friends and are a great deal safer in the company of others. Children playing in groups are less likely to be targeted by predators. If one of the children in the group is injured or in potential danger, one of the other children can get help.
Some parents may want to team up with other moms and dads to keep a better eye on a group of children. Even in the backyard playground, the buddy system is safer.
Children should always be aware of who they should be comfortable speaking to. Whether or not parents are willing to admit it to themselves, predators and potential predators are all around. Parents should create a password that the children are familiar with and make sure the children understand that any adult who does not know the password is not safe to leave with.
Keep a First Aid Kit
First aid kits are essential for any parent to have and should be located in the car and in the house. First aid kits should include wraps, basic splints, Band-Aids, antibiotic cream, peroxide, scissors, bee sting kits, and anything else that may come in handy for taking care of minor injuries. No one knows when or where a playground accident will happen, so it is better to always be prepared.