Injury prevention is not about watching children every minute of the day, or wrapping them in cotton wool. It’s the opposite. Injury prevention is about creating an environment where children can explore and challenge themselves while minimising the potential for serious injury that we can predict and prevent.
It is important that children have unstructured, outdoor play. Play is a vital part of childhood growth and development. Children learn through play to develop essential skills of risk taking, learning from mistakes, problem-solving and facing challenges.
There are some risks of unstructured, outdoor play, these may include natural wildlife (spiders and snakes), some plants can be poisonous, water hazards for young children, and falls from activities such as climbing trees or rocks and boulders. It is important to keep in mind that skinned knees, grazed elbows, bumps and bruises are signs of healthy growth, learning, development and discovery.
Kidsafe SA aims to assist parents, carers and educators to create an environment for children that fosters development and independence whilst minimising the risk of serious, preventable injuries. It is up to parents to draw the line in terms of safety, no two children are alike – parents and carers should make informed decisions based on their child’s age, development and activity they are undertaking while trusting their instinct.
Kidsafe SA recommendations for parents, carers and educators to keep children safe during play:
- Always check the environment before outdoor play – banging things with a large stick to check for wildlife or stability of tree branches etc.
- Make sure children are dressed appropriately – shoes and socks, pants, long sleeves, hat, sunscreen. Assess children’s clothing with balls, bubbles, ribbons or long bits for potential entanglement issues; if you are unsure, just remove it before children head off to play.
- Put in place guidelines for children which allow them to still push and challenge themselves, for example putting in place height markers for tree climbing.
- Rather than just watching on, interact and play with children to help them learn.
- If going out bushwalking always take a mobile phone, plenty of water and sunscreen.
For more information on safe play visit: www.kidsafesa.com.au/resources/information-sheets
Playground Safety Services for Early Childhood Sites and Schools
Kidsafe SA provides a number of playground safety services to support Early Childhood Sites and Schools including Comprehensive Playground Inspections, Natural Playspace Safety Inspections, Review of Plans Services and Playground Safety and Maintenance Workshops. For more information on Kidsafe SA’s playground safety services you can visit our Playground Advisory Page or to book an onsite inspection of your playspace, call (08) 8161 6318.