Upon visiting the park today, I was reminded of a few rules I’ve maintained to keep our visits to the neighborhood park safe. We frequent this one often, so it’s easy to relax rules we follow when visiting a new park, but it’s just as important to check the safety of equipment during every park visit.
- Ensure the equipment is safe. Avoid any rusted or loose pieces and make sure they can hold weight. Don’t assume something new has been constructed correctly. Give things a tug or climb them yourself if it seems something is amiss. Our park is fairly new and we have long steel rods pulling up from the border. While it only poses a tripping hazard, it could be a sign that an inspection of all equipment is due as construction and heavy machinery close-by have probably had an effect.
- Check the temperature of everything your child’s skin can touch. We have canopies covering our park and depending on the time of day, the Florida sun can raise the temperature to unbearable levels that would undoubtedly burn exposed skin. Remember, as the sun moves through the sky, an area in the shade now could have just been baking in the sun and not had time to cool off yet.
- Look for active spider or bug nests. Feel free to call your HOA or city officials to check for a regular pest control schedule. A spider bit me at the park this year and it took a painful month to heal. It’s not something I’d wish upon any child.
- Talk with your child about which areas of the park are ok to use. Ours is broken into a section for younger children and a more challenging structure for older children. While I want my children to test their limits and build confidence, I prefer to spot them their first few times through elevated structures. If I can’t reach them to catch in case of a fall, it’s too high.
Of course the goal of an outing to the park is to have fun and with these quick safety steps, you can ensure just that. As you walk through the park to check equipment, you can tell your little one what you are doing so they understand when you tell them something normally frequented is off limits. I find my daughter more amenable to avoiding the slide if I tell her it’s too hot today but it will cool off again for another day. Have fun!
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