How safe is your child care center? It's easy to overlook safety hazards on the playground, especially when no one at our care centers has gotten hurt.
Child care centers need to take safety seriously. While children are resilient, they're not yet capable of keeping themselves safe without guidance. That's why we want to help.
We want to teach you all about playground safety for child care centers so you can rest easy knowing that all of the children can play without the risk of getting hurt. Keep reading for some of our favorite tips and tricks in our playground safety checklist for child care centers.
The Facts And Figures
So why is child care playground safety so important?
The truth is, many children are harmed on the playground every year. Over 200,000 children aged 14 or under end up in emergency rooms for playground injuries every year. 56% are girls, and 44% are boys.
Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are at a greater risk for playground injuries. These children are strong and agile enough to get themselves in dangerous situations but don't yet have the knowledge or experience to protect themselves from harm.
Swings and climbing apparatuses are the most dangerous types of playground equipment at home and on public playgrounds respectively.
Maintenance And Inspection
A lot of playground equipment at schools and child care centers is outdated. It's crucial that you hire someone to inspect and maintain your equipment to ensure it's up to all safety standards.
But what types of maintenance do you need?
Popular ground surfaces for playgrounds include concrete, asphalt, and blacktop. They're affordable, efficient, and strong enough to take the pressure from children running and playing atop them.
That said, they're not unbreakable. When it snows or storms, or when the ground shifts or changes underneath, cracks can develop in these materials and fan out over time. These cracks can cause children to trip and fall or give them pieces of the materials that they can use to accidentally harm other children.
The Cushioned Ground Surface
There are softer ground surfaces available that are great for placing underneath things like jungle gyms and swings. They take some of the risks away from falls, and they don't result in skinned knees.
Rubber mulch and solid rubber surfaces are the most popular (with solid rubber being the top-tier choice due to the inability for children to choke on small pieces or harm the environment with the mulch).
Like hard surfaces, cushioned ground surfaces can crack. They can also collect water and deteriorate over time.
Make sure that your playground equipment is spaced out. Children don't yet have good spatial awareness, so keeping things farther apart is the safe choice.
Pieces should be about 9 feet apart. This stops children from knocking into pieces while playing or trying to climb from piece to piece.
The Importance Of Qualified Personnel
You might think that you can handle it yourself, but we suggest letting a professional take care of the inspections and maintenance. It's safer when you know that someone experienced is checking everything out.
When child safety is concerned, you need to do things right.
Thanks to our partnerships with state agencies we’ve compiled a list of the most common licensing violations.
Download this FREE checklist today!
Playground Safety Tips
Aside from maintenance, there are a few things that you can do and rules you can implement to keep things safe. Children benefit from rules and structure, so don't be afraid to put extra precautions in place.
There are a few rules that are relevant to all playgrounds.
Children should be encouraged to treat each other well and avoid any physical contact. They shouldn't chew gum or eat while on the playground unless it's necessary.
They should be encouraged not to throw anything that isn't a ball and not climb on anything that isn't for climbing.
Rules Specific To Child Care Centers
Some rules are more important for child care centers. These centers care for younger children and have more structure as a result.
Caregivers should encourage children to bring all toys in when playtime is over. They should also teach children how to respond to whistles or other indications that it's time to come inside or stop doing something that's dangerous.
If you have several age groups, encourage younger children to stick to their equipment.
Rules For Slides
Slides aren't too dangerous, but there are a few rules you should keep in place. Tell children not to climb up the slides to prevent slips or anyone crashing into each other.
Make sure they know not to jump off the top of the slide and that they need to take turns.
Rules For Swings
As swings are one of the more dangerous pieces of equipment, these rules are important. Children shouldn't jump off at the high point of a swing or try to make the swing go over the top.
If they push each other, they should do so gently, and they shouldn't run between people who are swinging.
Rules For Fireman Poles
These poles aren't as popular at modern care centers, but if your center has one, make sure that children know how to use it.
Only one child should go up or down the pole at a time. They shouldn't try to get on top of the pole; it's for sliding down.
Rules For Climbing Equipment
Other climbing equipment, like jungle gyms, are dangerous. Teach children how to use them first and keep the equipment low.
Tell children to use the equipment one at a time and not to go underneath someone who is climbing.
Rules For Toys
Balls and other toys should be used with care. Don't kick any balls on the harder surfaces. Teach children the appropriate amount of force to use for games like basketball and foursquare.
Ensure children know not to throw balls at each other and that there are consequences for doing so.
Jump ropes and hula hoops are safe as long as children don't get too close to each other and they use them right. Display the best way to play with them.
Make sure that the playground is appropriate for the age group you're working with. Small children need smaller and safer play areas, while older children can use things like swings and monkey bars.
Keep these things separate if you have a mix of ages so older children don't harm the smaller equipment and younger children don't harm themselves.
Caregivers need to supervise children at all times. Even with the best safety precautions in place, accidents happen. It's your job to avoid those accidents and respond when one happens anyway.
Have more than one caregiver supervising at a time, so you know everyone is safe.
Playground Safety For Child Care Centers Is Essential
Keep the children under your care safe and happy with these tips for playground safety for child care centers. Injuries are preventable if you know the right methods and have the right tools.
Are you looking for more help with running your child care center? Schedule a demo of our Alliance CORE system. We streamline the process so you can spend more time caring and less time on tedious tasks.
Are you looking for more child care management information? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Child Care Management.
Our child care management system makes running your child care program simple and efficient. Get back to what's most important. You shouldn't have to spend more time on the administrative tasks than you do with children and staff.
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Or schedule a demo with us to learn more about how our child care management system, Alliance Core, can streamline your administrative processes.
Do you run an early childhood association made up of child care providers? If so, check out our Ultimate Guide to Shared Service Alliance.
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