This week we again welcome guest blogger Kris Corrigan, Iowa State University Environmental Rating Scale Assessor
Playgrounds evoke good and bad memories for many of us. For me, it was testing my limits as I pumped to make the swing go higher and higher or the time my play partner decided to leave the teeter totter and left me in mid-air only to come crashing down landing on a hard surface. Playgrounds and playground equipment can provide fresh air, fun and great exercise; but, they must be safe.
The statistics are staggering. Each year over 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained on playgrounds. In 1995, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) gave the University of Northern Iowa a grant to raise awareness about playground safety. The National Program for Playground Safety was created. They researched all the factors that contribute to a safe playground and developed the acronym S.A.F.E. which has become a widely used model for playground safety.
S = Supervision Effective supervision is an important part of keeping children safe.
A=Age-appropriate design The equipment should be appropriately challenging and the right size for the ages and abilities of the children.
F=Fall surfacing The surface under and around any equipment over 18 inches in height should be cushioned with appropriate materials.
E=Equipment maintenance Routine maintenance is essential in keeping children safe from hazards that can exist.
All four of these elements work hand-in-hand to create a safe playground. If you are interested in this important topic, you can register for one of several courses offered by the National Program for Playground Safety at http://www.uni.edu/playground
To view short video clips presented by Heather Olsen on each of the S.A.F.E. elements, please go to www.monkeysee.com/playground
For more information:
Hudson, S., Thompson, D., & Olsen, H. (2007) S.A.F.E. Play Areas – Creation, Maintenance, and Renovation, Cedar Falls, IA: National Program for Playground Safety
Hudson, S., Thompson, D., & Olsen, H. (3rd edition, 2013) Early Childhood Assessment Manual for Outdoor Play Environments, Cedar Falls, IA: National Program for Playground Safety
Consumer Product and Safety Commission (2010, publication #325), Public Playground Safety Handbook www.cpsc.gov/…/Sports-and-Recreation/Playground-Safety/325
National Program for Playground Safety: America’s Playgrounds – Safety Report Card – www.playgroundsafety.org/resources/safety-checklist
National Recreation and Park Association, The Dirty Dozen: 12 Playground Hazards