For kids anxious to get back on slides and swings, the wait is over thanks to Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement of reopening playgrounds in the state.
While playgrounds offer kids vital physical, cognitive and social interaction crucial for their development, they also offer an opportunity for injuries. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, staying safe on playgrounds isn’t just about avoiding physical injury; it’s also about avoiding exposure to the virus.
As kids race back out to the playground, here are 10 tips to help keep them safe – from germs and injuries.
1. Know the park rules. Before heading out, and to avoid disappointment, review updates from the local health department to understand pandemic orders and/or rules in each community.
2. Stay away from a crowded playground. It’s best to use a playground during off-peak times so children can maintain distance while playing. Adults who are supervising children should also be mindful of social distancing from others in and around the playground space.
3. Children should wear masks on the playground. The CDC recommends wearing masks at playgrounds. Face coverings are believed to reduce transmission of the virus. Remember, face coverings shouldn’t be placed on young children under age 2 or those with sensory issues. Also, be sure to take breaks often and drink plenty of water to avoid overheating.
4. Keep hands clean and away from faces. Wash children’s hands before and after playtime since the virus may spread when people touch contaminated objects, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If bathrooms aren’t nearby, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
5. Inspect the playground. Playgrounds haven’t been in use since the winter months so take a look around to make sure the playground is clean and well maintained. Report problems to the park if you see issues.
6. Make sure equipment is age-appropriate. Playground equipment is typically designed for 3 different age groups: kids under 2, 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-year-olds. Make sure children use equipment that’s right for their age.
7. Avoid lapses in supervision. Make the playground a phone-free zone. Be present and engaged while kids are playing to help prevent injuries. Young kids can’t always gauge distances properly and aren’t capable of foreseeing dangerous situations by themselves.
8. Teach children about playground safety. Remind kids how to use equipment safely, keep distance between others – no pushing or roughhousing – and stay out of the path of moving equipment such as swings.
9. Dress kids for safe play. Make sure children wear appropriate shoes with traction and laces are tied. Also, don’t dress them in clothes with drawstrings, scarves or anything else that dangles, which can get caught on equipment accidentally.
10. Beware of hot surfaces. Some equipment, such as slides, swings and stairs, can heat up to extreme temperatures in the hot summer months, so be sure to check them before play.
Keeping kids active, even during a pandemic, is important for their overall health and well-being. If your child is struggling to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, call Akron Children’s Healthy Active Living program to schedule an appointment and evaluation at 330-543-5673.
Learn more about the steps Akron Children’s Hospital is taking to keep you and your family safe during the pandemic.