The University Record, May 20, 1997

Spring brings outside play, concern for child safety

With spring arriving, children are eager to play out-of-doors. While providing a wonderful outlet for children to release energy and develop muscle coordination, there is potential for accidents, according to Su-Fen Lin, director of Children's Services in the Housing Division.

An estimated 200,000 children annually suffer injuries requiring hospital emergency room treatment as a result of playground equipment-related accidents. Approximately 40 percent of these accidents occur to children under age 6; the majority are due to falls, Lin says. No matter how much time and effort go into planning a safe playground, children will use the equipment improperly.

Therefore, she cautions, young children must be supervised while on a playground and taught proper playground behavior. She suggests that families living close together devise a schedule so that there is always someone to supervise children in the play area.

She offers some rules to share with children to help make outside play safer. Children should be instructed to:


know simple emergency procedures;


always tell mom or dad where they will be playing;


use play equipment the way it is meant to be used;


get off a seesaw slowly when the other person is in the air;


be careful when walking near seesaws and other moving equipment;


take turns using the most popular equipment;


sit properly on swings and other equipment;


not climb bushes, trees and fences;


not run, push or fight, especially while on playground equipment;


not twist swing chains, swing empty seats, or walk in front of moving swings;


not try to get more children on a piece of play equipment than it was designed to hold;


never play in parking lots;


never talk to strangers and be wary of anyone who tries to give them candy, gifts or money, or asks them to help find something.

Children should also be taught to practice traffic safety, Lin says. According to the SAFE KIDS Campaign, children under age 7 are at high risk in traffic. Children this age cannot accurately judge distance and speed, and as a result do not recognize and react appropriately to danger.