Even in the UK, where weather can be changeable, it’s a good idea for kids to be able to play outside as much as possible. Having the freedom to run around, and use play equipment, outdoors helps to reduce childhood stress and levels of obesity. Yes, kids love to play games on their tablets, but there should be a balance between this type of play and outdoor fun.
However, if you create an outdoor play space for your child, you need to make sure that it’s safe to use. The last thing you want is for your kids to end up in A&E because they fell on ground that was too hard, or cut their arm on a slide that was not built to high safety standards.
Why safety is so important?
The head of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has insisted that you cannot wrap your kids in cotton wool all the time. Childhood accidents will happen; it’s a fact of life. However, you do not want to promote the chance of accidents by creating an unsafe outdoor play area. If you want your kids to be able to play in your back garden, you need to invest some time and effort into making sure that the play equipment, and the play area, are safe. This means that should your child run into something, or fall over, serious injury should be avoided most of the time.
Creating a safe area for your kids to play in
One of the most important factors, when it comes to creating an outdoor play area, is the flooring. The space should be level and firm with a protective covering that helps to prevent injury should your kids fall. According to the professionals at Provincial Rubber rubber matting is a “Safe and affordable means of covering the ground so that your children are protected as they play”. As well as providing a high level of safety, rubber matting is also comfortable for your kids to play on and is easy to keep clean.
In addition to fitting safe flooring in an outdoor play area, you should:
- Fill in ponds or pools, or make sure they are safely and securely fenced off.
- Make sure that young children are fenced off from busy traffic on the road, unless you are watching them and able to prevent them from running out.
- Cut back over hanging trees that could present a danger from falling branches.
- Avoid placing play equipment below overhanging power lines.
- Leave enough space around each play item so that kids can run around safely between items.
Scrapes and bumps are a normal part of childhood, but being careful should help prevent your kids from being more seriously injured.
Choosing safe items for the outdoor play area
Play items are being developed all the time; reliable manufacturers are able to create items that fully promote safe play. It’s always worth investing in play equipment that comes from a reputable provider and has a good safety record, even if you end up paying a little more than you had planned to. When you are buying any play equipment there are some tips to bear in mind:
- Do not buy wooden play items that are not treated against rot and pests or that are treated with toxic chemicals.
- Look for galvanised metal joints that will not corrode.
- Take a look for “pinch problems”. This is any piece of equipment which has areas where kids can trap fingers or pinch areas of their skin.
- Opt for play items which have textured handles and grips so that it’s less likely your kids’ hands will slip when they are using them.
- Avoid buying items which have potential snag features, such as bolts that stand out from the surface, where kids’ clothes can become caught.
- Normally, stick to age appropriate items, no matter how much your young kids want more advanced play equipment. Sometimes it’s okay for kids to advance a little if they have the skills, but be sensible.
If you are creating an outdoor play area for very young children, you should ensure that they have adult supervision at all times. Young children do not have the same awareness levels, and sense of danger, as older kids, so a responsible person should always be around to keep an eye on them.
Hopefully, your kids will never have a serious accident while they are playing. You can make this more likely to be the case if you provide them with a safe space to play and safe equipment to use.