National Playground Safety Week is April 21-27, 2013!

2013 playground banner

National Playground Safety Week is a time to focus on our students outdoor play environments. It is a time to pledge to use good judgment when playing, and it is a time for gratitude for all the adults who work tirelessly on supervising and maintaining our playgrounds.

Over the past few years DoDEA has taken several steps to improve our school playgrounds in an effort to keep our children safe. New surfacing material has been installed and new equipment has been purchased. We have identified a need for refocusing the awareness of playground monitors and provided the schools with a training video to assist in this effort. We have developed an instruction on playground management to provide school administrators and facilities staff direction on what to look for when conducting their routine inspections. However, we have to ask, what more can we do to keep our students safe?

A review of playground injuries reveals most are associated with climbing equipment, slides and swings. Students often fall or jump from heights and land wrong, which results in injuries. Sometimes students are unaware of their surroundings and either strike a structure or get struck by a moving piece of equipment. It is not uncommon for a student to try to use a piece of equipment that they not physically able to navigate safely, such as overhead ladders that are too high or have bars spaced outside the students normal reach.

Playground monitors must be aware of the issues and maintain constant vigilance on activities identified as higher risk. Quick action to address inappropriate behavior is necessary to prevent injuries and teach students the proper etiquette for safe play. If a student’s physical stature poses a problem, i.e. a 5 year old playing on an overhead ladder more suited for a 12 year old and vice versa, playground monitors should recognize this fact and direct the student to equipment that is more appropriate.

School administrators must continue with daily inspection to identify broken equipment or hazards requiring corrective action. A principal’s commitment to safety on the playgrounds sets the standard for the rest of the staff to follow. Active involvement and prompt action to address issues promotes a culture of safety, which signifies the care and concern we provide to our students.