While playground falls are often nothing to worry about, they can sometimes cause serious injury. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most playground injuries are caused by climbing equipment, with children ages 5 to 9 at the highest risk. By knowing what to do if your child slips off the monkey bars or other playground equipment, you can ensure that he or she gets prompt medical care when it’s necessary.
When your child falls, comfort them and check for any bruises and bumps. According to Nemours, call 911 right away if your child has a seizure after a fall, is unconscious, has trouble breathing, or has injured his or her head, neck, or back.
For minor bumps and bruises, cold compresses and rest should do the trick. Broken bones are one of the most common playground injuries. Sometimes, children seem fine immediately but later complain of pain after a fall. If you notice swelling, or if the injured area still hurts after a day or two, take your child to urgent care or the emergency room. These could be signs of a fracture.You should also seek medical attention right away if your child has any unusual symptoms or behavior in the 24 hours after the fall, including lethargy, irritability, vomiting, increasing pain, difficulty walking, or trouble focusing on objects. If your child hit his or her head during the fall, these can be signs of a concussion or other head injury. Watch your child closely and trust your instincts; if anything seems out of the ordinary, call your pediatrician or head to the emergency room. Contrary to popular wisdom, there is no reason to keep your child awake after a head injury if he or she is behaving normally and not in pain.
Prevention is key in avoiding playground injuries. Look for play areas that are lined with wood chips or soft, rubbery surfaces. Your child is more likely to be injured if he or she falls on concrete, so avoid equipment that isn’t properly cushioned. Shock absorption is critical, so make sure protective material covers six feet around the equipment and 12 inches deep.
Also make sure that your child’s play is age appropriate. In general, preschoolers are too young for monkey bars if they are high off the ground. Reserve this type of play for school aged children. And because many injuries happen at school, make sure recess is well supervised.