Play is an incredibly important part of the development of our tamariki. Play helps improve the physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of children. Playgrounds can provide a fun environment for tamariki to have fun, learn, and play with other children. However, playgrounds can also cause injuries. This article will discuss things to look for and how to keep tamariki safe at a public playground using the S.A.F.E. framework from Safekids and Starship Hospital.
The first step to ensure tamariki safety is supervision. A responsible adult should always remain present while tamariki play. The responsibilities of this adult include supervising the children, checking for hazards, and ensuring tamariki are playing safely. When you arrive at a new playground you should check— is there good visibility so that parents or a supervisor can easily watch their children at all times? If there isn’t, this may not be a safe playground.
Tamariki play differently depending on their age. Playground equipment for little children is built different to playground equipment for older children. It’s important to make sure tamariki play with age-appropriate playground equipment to keep both themselves and others safe.
Some questions to consider: Does the playground have seperate grounds for big and little children? Are these playgrounds clearly seperated and distinct from one another?
If there aren’t two clearly seperate playgrounds, does the playground have any signage to signify which age group this playground is suitable for?
Fall surface and height
Falls and trips are the main cause of injury in tamariki. Playgrounds often have lots of climbing equipment with tamariki running around. Because of this, playgrounds must have some form of impact-absorbing flooring. The impact-absorbing flooring is designed to prevent injury to tamariki when they eventually trip and fall during play. This flooring can be either a rubber surface, woodchips, or mulch.
When you arrive at a new playground, check the floor surface to make sure it is in good condition, without any sharp edges, protuding corners, or other tripping hazards that could injure tamariki.
Additionally, for the climbing equipment, the maximum height equipment such as monkey bars and climbing walls must not be greater than 220cm. Anything higher and tamariki could be seriously injured if they fall. For any other elevated surfaces, check for guardrails to prevent falls and accidents.
Equipment maintenance is a crucial aspect of playground safety. It's essential to ensure that all playground equipment is kept in good condition with no broken parts. Regular inspections should be conducted, and any damaged or worn-out pieces of equipment should be promptly repaired or replaced.
When visiting a new playground, take a moment to check the equipment to make sure it is in working order. If you notice anything looking out of place or broken, check for a contact number or information that can be used to report the issue with the playground's maintenance. Proper maintenance ensures that playgrounds remain safe and enjoyable spaces for children to play.