Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: It's Back to School: Share Your Advice

Playground Safety: Tips for Avoiding the ER During Back to School Season

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


Back to school is right around the corner, which means parents and kids, if they haven’t already, will be hitting the school playground very soon. All kids are thinking about is having fun. Trust me, I know this to be true. However, parents worry about safety first. This is our job. It’s what we’re here for, right?

Step one is to visit the playground(s) your kids will be playing on this upcoming school year. Put on your detective hat.

Don’t go into parental zone out mode on the playground. It is important to be armed with info, tips and tricks if you will, for avoiding the ER during playground season. Much of these tips focus on actively touching, tugging, inspecting, looking and listening for warning signs. Yes, I want you to be that parent. Your kids do too, since they don’t like hospitals.

Playgrounds offer many fascinating activities for kids, but playgrounds can also cause trips to the ER. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, “The most common playground injury is falls and represents seventy-five percent of all related injuries to kids on playground.” Parents need to know how to avoid playground injuries and trips to the ER.

Most injuries occur on slides, swings, or playing on surfaces. Knowing how to avoid these injuries is important to keep your child safe. The CDC states, “Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries”.


Kids love slides. However, slides can cause injuries. Knowing how to prevent injuries and avoid the ER is as simple as playing it SAFE.

  • Sturdy- Slides provide hours of fantastic adventure for kids of all ages. Slides can also provide hours of agony in the ER if not properly secure. Before letting your child get on the slide at the playground, check to ensure it is secure. Inspect the slide by looking at the bolts, looking for rust, shake the slide to make sure it does not move, and lastly, parent test the slide by going down it yourself. For safety’s sake, of course.

  • Alert- Be alert of the dangers playground slides can pose. Worn out playground equipment can be hazardous to a child. Knowing how old the equipment is can prevent trips to the ER. Ask questions and read online reviews of the playground or park to get the facts. In other words, know before you go.

  • Focus- Kids are going to play on the slide. The inevitability of kids being drawn to a big colorful thing in the middle of the playground is sure. So simply telling kids the slide doesn’t look safe won’t likely stop them. Size it up, look to see where your child would land. Focus on the surface around the slide to ensure it is safe for a fall, just in case. Look for areas that have playground rubber flooring. This type of surface offers a softer cushion for a child’s fall than a hard surfaces made of rocks or wood chips.

  • Environment- Know the area around the slide. By knowing what type of play area exists around the slide, you can prevent injuries. If the surface is unsafe, then it is possible lacerations requiring stitches could occur.


Kids love to swing. They also love to play the game of swinging up as high as possible and then jumping off. These type of playground antics can cause a trip to the ER as quick as you can say, ER. By being SMART, parents can prevent swing-related ER visits.

  • Safe- Swings are fun, but is the area around them safe? To avoid the ER make sure the area around the swings are safe. Look for material that is soft and cushions a fall.

  • Material- What’s the swing made of? How’s the connection from the swing to the pole looking? By evaluating the material parents are less likely to be caught up in the ambulance with a screaming child. Is it worth a look, and maybe even a tug on a chain to ensure everything is kosher? Absolutely!

  • Avoid- Avoid swing areas that do not have proper fall safety measures in place. Swing sets tend to have worn down and oftentimes non-existent safety surfacing around the surface area. Make sure there is proper surfacing, something to cushion a fall like turf, rubber mulch, pour-in-place rubber, or safety tiles, just in case the younger sibling is not crawling on the exact spot where your child will fall. Of course I’m kidding. But isn’t that amazing how often kids are able to line up just perfectly to fall atop each other?

  • Report- As a parent, it is your duty to keep your child safe at the playground, despite what some say is ok. Kids getting hurt and going to the ER is never good. If you observe a dangerous play area around the swings, report it to the groundskeeper or person in charge of maintenance. I know, I know, there often isn’t anyone around to report an issue to. That’s what the WWW is for friend, simply do a Google search and you should be able to get a city, daycare, school, or church official on the phone relatively easily.

  • Thorough- To avoid ER trips, do a thorough check of the play area around the swings. Ensure the surface is safe for your child to play. It’s sad, but in today’s day and age in which we live, make sure there are no needles, drugs, booze, glass, or other things that could cause harm to your kids in plain sight.

Playground season is here, and kids are out playing in full force. Avoiding the ER visits is as simple as being SAFE and SMART.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.