Pediatric: Safety tips for babysitters (part 3): keeping outdoor play areas safe
When the weather is nice or the children are rambunctious, you may spend some of your daytime babysitting outdoors. Outdoor play equipment—swings, seesaws, and slides—can be fun, but can be dangerous too. You'll need to keep a watchful eye on the little ones in your care. Here are some tips on keeping outdoor play areas safe for children.
Children often do the unexpected on playground equipment. They are naturally curious and adventurous. Common hazardous behaviors include:
- Standing, rather than sitting, in a swing
- Climbing to the top of the swing set and sitting or swinging on it
- Jumping off or in front of swings, seesaws, or gliders
- Walking in front or in back of a moving swing
- Putting too much weight on a piece of equipment and toppling it
Hanging "rings" are particularly dangerous to small children. Their heads may be small enough to go through the ring, turning it into a noose.
All children should be supervised when playing on this kind of equipment. Here are some tips:
- Tell children to sit in the center of a swing.
Explain the following hazards:
- Walking in front or in back of a swing
- Pushing other children off of the swing
- Swinging empty seats
- Twisting the swing chains
- Climbing up the front of the slide
- From the start, stop any bad behavior.
You can also enlist the help of children. Talk to older children about certain safety rules and why they are important. Ask them to assist you in watching the younger ones. It will help them to understand these rules better. Let children know that any bad behavior (eg, stunts, misuse of equipment) is unacceptable.
Last reviewedMay 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.