Whether your kids are running for the slide during recess at school, clamoring for the last swing at the park, or building a fort in your backyard playground set, there have to be rules in place that will keep everyone safe. Playgrounds by definition can be dangerous if your kids aren’t familiar with appropriate playground behavior and rules for playground safety.

For parents, it’s important to ensure your child understands how to behave on the playground, and how to prepare themselves for a safe experience. We put together this handy checklist to go over with your kids before they hit the slides.

Keep an Eye on Their Play

1. Adult supervision is present: Adults should read any posted rules before kids begin to play and should keep a watchful eye as kids use the playground. Supervision from adults can help structure play, provide safety reminders, and intervene, if necessary.

2. All children play on age-appropriate equipment: Different areas of the playground are designed for children of different ages. Keeping kids on equipment that’s designed for their age group keeps them safe, and makes playtime more fun for all.

3. Play safely and follow the rules: Remind children about appropriate behavior for the playground: no pushing or shoving, always wait your turn, and use the equipment how it’s meant to be used (do not stand or kneel on the swings, position yourself feet first when going down the slide, etc.)

Check the Equipment

1. Is the equipment is safe? Before the kids get playing, parents should give the equipment a once-over to make sure everything looks safe. Make sure the playset is anchored safely in the ground, that all parts of the equipment are in place and working, that there are no sharp edges, rust, splinters, protruding bolts, etc. Report any hazards to the correct authority.

2. Scan the terrain: Is the playground on a soft surface such as mulch, sand, or rubber? Is the ground surrounding the equipment free of tree stumps or roots that may cause children to trip and fall?

3. Remove unsecured ropes: If the playground includes ropes, ensure that they’re secured on both ends, as strings and ropes may lead to accidental strangulation. Jump ropes, dog leashes, and other cords should not be brought onto playground equipment.

4. Make sure the equipment isn’t too hot: Even on a pleasantly sunny day, surfaces on the playground may be dangerously hot to the touch. Check all surfaces—especially metal poles or slides—before play begins to make sure no one is burned.

Make Sure They’re Dressed for Fun, Safe Play

1. Children should wear appropriate clothing: Climbing, jumping, swinging and playing requires clothing that’s ready for active play. Children should wear sneakers with laces properly tied and clothing that allows them to move freely. Anything that may be caught, such as clothing with drawstrings, necklaces, purses or scarves, should be set aside during playtime.

2. No bicycle helmets while on the equipment: Bicycle helmets can cause children to get stuck on the equipment, which may lead to strangulation. Children should remove bike helmets before playing on the playground.

3. Prepare for the sun: Outdoor play calls for sun protection! Children should be wearing UVA and UVB protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. On hot days, adults should suggest playing in the shade, and remind kids to take water breaks.

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