Health Check: Playground injury prevention begins with attentiveness

The neighborhood park is a natural draw for children and parents alike. Even a day when the weather is less than perfect can’t keep Christel Cluck stuck at home.

“I mean, this winter has been kind of brutal,” said Cluck, a nanny from Maple Grove. “So we just like to come out, run around, get some energy out.”

For many kids, letting out energy at the playground involves climbing on anything and everything.

“I definitely worry about broken bones,” Cluck added. “Especially, like I said, these guys are very active. So they fall a lot.”

According to Hennepin County Officials, she has reason to feel that way.

“The majority of the injuries we see happen from falls from high surfaces,” said Julie Philbrook, a trauma prevention specialist from HCMC. “So kids love to climb, they love to jump.”

The Centers for Disease Control reports that emergency departments nationwide treat more than 200,000 children for playground-related injuries each year.

“What we see most are fractures. Arm fractures,” Phibrook said. “You can also hit your head, and we will see those.”

It’s Philbrook’s job to prevent those injuries from happening. She says one of the places where a serious playground injury could occur is on a ladder.

“Flip-flops are a real problem with playgrounds as well as other places just because they’re not secure to the feet,” she said. “So they could lose their balance, fall between, and they could get strangled in this [ladder].”

Another key thing to look out for is the surface area of the playground itself.

“They’ve got the sand down, which is a great surface, but it probably needs to be replenished,” Philbrook said, referring to the surface at Golden Valley’s Brookview Park.

Philbrook says the more sand that’s on the ground, the more protection kids have if they take a spill.

“You’d want to have more surface below you, the higher you go,” she added.

But, she says the important thing for is for adults to be attentive and supervise their children.

“I always watch the kids as much as possible, no matter what,” Cluck said. “Because nowhere’s really safe.”

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