iStock_000014220137XSmallWarmer weather is on its way and that means more time spent enjoying activities outdoors . The swimming pool, ball diamond, and playground are all fun places to be during the summer, but they also offer plenty of opportunity for injury, especially to children.

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention reports that emergency rooms treat more than 200,000 children each year for playground-related injuries.  About 45 percent of the injuries are severe, including fractures, concussions, internal injuries, and amputations.  Between 1990 and 2000, 147 injuries were fatal.

Many of these injuries and fatalities no doubt were partially the result of physical deficiencies such as improperly designed equipment, poor maintenance, or lack of proper fall protection surfacing, but improper supervision likely played a part as well. It seems obvious that children are less likely to be injured if they are closely supervised by a parent or guardian.  This assertion is backed up by a 2010 Missouri University Sinclair School of Nursing study that reviewed unintentional child injury deaths in five states.  The study found that neglect was a contributing factor in 90 percent of cases and that it was directly responsible in 40 percent.

For example, falls from height account for a significant percentage of serious injuries.  They often occur when children engage in risky behaviors such as climbing on the outside of platform barriers and spiral slides or when youngsters are attempting to use equipment that is beyond their age level.  The answer to these problems?  Active monitoring of the playground by responsible adults.

Childhood wouldn’t be nearly as fun without playgrounds.  They offer wonderful opportunities for children to develop strength, coordination, social skills, and self-confidence.   Parents, school teachers and care takers can help kids safely enjoy these benefits by watching, listening and providing guidance.  What steps do you take when you’re at the playground to assure your children’s safety?

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