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How to keep kids safe on the playground

Each year, 200,000 children get hurt from having fun on the playground, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The summer heat not only warms the weather, but it also makes playground equipment hot. This means that kids can get burns from using slides and monkey bars. 

Each year, 200,000 children get hurt on playgrounds, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Friday is Allison’s birthday. To celebrate, she wanted to go to the park with her mom, Alexis Harris.

They come to play and have fun, but Harris says she knows that it’s also a place where her daughter could get hurt.

"I’m always here with her," Harris said. "I don’t leave her alone. And make sure she’s safe and I check on her constantly and she has to come back and check with me."

Dr. Jeff Holloway works in pediatrics at Prisma Health Midlands

"It’s very easy as a parent myself to kind of get caught away or miss something that definitely could prevent some pretty bad injuries that we see unfortunately," Holloway said.

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Those injuries can range in how bad they are.

"Most of the time, the playground is going to cause simple injuries like scrapes and bruises, but you definitely see some major head injuries and broken bones from those playground accidents," he said.

To avoid those accidents, there are a few things you can do.

Christopher Santino is a playground safety inspector for Richland County Recreation Commission. He inspects the county's parks and playgrounds on a regular basis.

"That’s paramount: safety," he said. "When it comes to playground, that’s my priority, that’s my focus, that’s my mission."

Latashi Jones works with Santino as the risk and safety manager for the commission. She inspects playgrounds daily.

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"We look for entanglements, we look where kids could get pinch points or pressure points or anything like that in the safety equipment," she said. "We look for defects like if anything is missing, broken, any items are protruding…"

All of this is to keep kids safe.

"Please know that slides are not designed to be run up, swings are not designed to be jumped off of, so just utilize the playground the way it was designed," Santino said.

He says it’s also good to avoid wearing helmets, drawstrings, hoodies, or long necklaces that can get caught on equipment.

Holloway agrees.

"Helmets are a really good thing in general, but a helmet and a playground don’t mix well." he said. "You might think the helmet is protective in one way, but actually it can be very harmful."

Additionally, heat exhaustion is something to look out for, Holloway says.

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Jada Proctor-Bates came to the park with her son. She says she pays attention to the weather to ensure he doesn't overheat or get burned. 

"When the equipment is hot, we’ll usually just cool off because I bring his balls and that’s something we’ll play," she said. "He’s learning how to catch right now. And I always have his water and water bottles with us, so that’s something to help him cool off."

If you're not sure whether or not the equipment is too hot for children, Santino says you can always test it yourself.

"Have the caretaker, the parent, the camp counselor, the teacher, whoever is responsible for supervising the children just go around and touch the equipment to make sure it's not hot," Santino said.

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