Now that spring has arrived for most of the world, park season is in full force. In Texas, we get about three weeks of spring before the weather becomes unbearable, which means we better fit in a lot of park visiting while we still can.
National Park Week and National Playground Safety Week both fall in April when families are just starting to emerge from winter hibernation into the sunlight again. This is the perfect time to consider park and playground safety so you can be prepared for anything.
Stay safe and prepared at the park with these helpful tips from Mom Prepares.
What to Bring
I am typically that mom who under prepares for park visits (I hate feeling like a pack mule), but I always regret it. Unless you are planning to visit a park like Yellowstone National Park, the list of equipment that you need to bring is small. Bring the following items with you when you visit a park to prepare for any occurrence.
Basic Park Visit
- First aid kit
- Snacks (because kids are always hungry)
- Sunscreen (if you don’t like to put sunscreen on your children, give them a hat or a shirt that covers the shoulders to avoid burns)
- Towel (for wet playground equipment or children)
- Back-up clothing
- Portable toilet (if your children are in the potty-training stage and have a 10-second bladder)
- Any desired activities or toys
Park Visit with Hiking, Biking, or Other “Sporty” Activities
- Appropriate safety gear
- Bug spray
- Extra water and snacks
- A list of native plants, bugs, and animals that could be dangerous
Injuries at the Park
75 percent of injuries at parks are from falling and 45 percent of injuries occur when caregivers are not watching children. While I certainly don’t think you have to hover over any child older than toddler age, it definitely helps to keep an eye out to make sure children aren’t using equipment improperly or getting too risky in their play.
Aside from falls- which can lead to complications like broken limbs, concussions, and large cuts; other common park injuries include sprains, scraps, bruises, and sunburns.
If an injury does occur, you can use the handy first aid kit you packed or always keep in your car to deal with any injury that does not require a visit to the ER.
Check out this Johnson & Johnson All Purpose First Aid Kit. It is under $20.00 and from a brand name I trust.
Create a Safety Plan
A safety plan is essential for any location. Before you visit a park, discuss a safety plan with your children. What will they do if they get separated from you? How will you handle stranger interactions? What if it starts to storm? How far can they wander from the play area? If you think about these things before you go then you won’t be surprised if these situations do arise. Discussion about playground etiquette and safety will also help keep your children safer at the park.
Basic Safety Guidelines
- Watch for other kids
- Use toys on appropriate surfaces
- Avoid hot or broken equipment
- Always wear socks and shoes
- Avoid clothing with loose pieces (untied shoelaces, drawstrings, too-large clothing, etc) that can catch on playground equipment- my husband actually broke his arm when he didn’t follow this rule, so I think it’s pretty important.
- Stick to age-appropriate equipment
How do you make sure your children (and you!) are safe during park visits?