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Playground and Outdoor Play Safety

How can I tell whether the play structures and playgrounds my child uses are safe?
Use this checklist from the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) to find out whether the playgrounds and play structures your child uses are up to par.  Be sure to consider your neighborhood public playgrounds, your own play equipment or your neighbor's, and your preschool and school playgrounds.

What about drawstrings on clothing?
Drawstrings can strangle a child if they get caught on playground equipment. Your best bet is to simply remove them from clothing. Another option is to cut all ends just long enough to tie or sew a seam at the middle of the hood, collar, or waistband to keep either side from pulling out too long.

How can I learn more about playground safety and promote safe playgrounds?

What about treated lumber used in playground equipment?
You should be aware that the treated lumber used in wooden play structures often contains arsenic, and can be dangerous to children. The arsenic is on the wood, and in the soil around the play structure. Kids are exposed to arsenic when they play on and around equipment treated with arsenic-containing preservatives and then put their hands in their mouths. You should thoroughly wash your child's hands with soap and water immediately after outdoor play, and especially before eating. Discourage kids from eating while on arsenic-treated playgrounds. Here's the latest from the CPSC on treated wood used in playground equipment. Find out even more about treated lumber and chromated copper arsenate (CCA) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Are trampolines a good recreational activity for kids?
Trampolines can be very dangerous. They should never be used at home, in gym classes, or on the playground. They should only be used in supervised training programs for competitive sports under the supervision of a professional trained in trampoline safety.

How much do I really need to worry about the sun?
Protecting your children from the sun may reduce their chances of skin cancer in later life. The American Academy of Dermatology, estimates that 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun damage occurs before the age of 18. Sunscreen, along with protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses are the gear your kids need when they are heading outdoors.

The sun can be dangerous, especially for babies. Here's what you need to know to enjoy the outdoors safely with your child:

Where can I find more information on sun protection for kids and teens?
Here are some links:

Where can I get more information on related topics?

Written and compiled by Kyla Boyse, R.N.  Reviewed by faculty and staff at the University of Michigan.
Updated May 2008

U-M Health System Related Sites:
U-M Pediatrics

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