Childhood is the period which has always been marked by the desire for entertainment and the threat of injuries on the part of the kids. Perhaps, playground equipment in the parks, play areas, and sports areas are one of the most adored kinds of outdoor leisure activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. Since adults, including parents and supervisors, are responsible for children’s safety and well-being, it is vitally important to consider age and weight restrictions of playground equipment in order to avoid playground-related accidents. Therefore, since the playground equipment designers and manufacturers use only quality and strong material for the products, there are no weight limits; however, to avoid injuries caused by accidental collisions, playground equipment should be planned and signposted for three different age groups.
1. Why Do the Restrictions of Playground Equipment Matter?
Before anything else, it is essential to realize the urgency of the item under discussion. The reason why people (including parents, childhood educators, preschool teachers, and workers of the Health Department) care about age and weight restrictions of playground equipment is that playground equipment-related injuries are common, severe, and life-threatening. The fact is that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries … In 1995, injuries among children ages 14 and younger cost an estimated $1.2 billion.” Moreover, as the Centers point out, it is girls aged from five to nine years old who sustain injuries on public playgrounds the most often, and such popular components of the equipment as climbers and swings prove to be the most harmful for the risk group. Needless to say, something must be done to prevent children from a wide range of injuries that occur while playing, such as bruises, contusions, sprains, and fractures. Unfortunately, some injuries can be fatal. In other words, society is responsible for children’s health, safety, and happiness.
2. Weight Restrictions
Now, it is important to examine the existing restrictions of playground equipment, which are perhaps the most helpful in protecting children while playing outdoors. However, it appears that there are no weight limits of the equipment because each individual component of the modern-day playground construction is designed for the maximum load, more than any human being can possibly ever weight. Contemporary manufacturers seek to provide quality and strong products which can be used regardless of weight. Here is how Component Playgrounds Company describes its products with respect to weight restrictions: “Each individual swing is conservatively rated at 500 pounds. For example, An A-Frame Swing Set has three swings, so the swings are conservatively rated at 1500 pounds! The bending moment of the steel is actually 24,405 pounds.” Therefore, children of any weight are allowed to take full advantage of playground equipment as far as they comply with the other requirements.
3. Age Restrictions
Obviously, age restrictions on playground equipment are the most useful when it comes to protecting children from accidental injuries. But before we look at the restrictions themselves, note the generally accepted age classification. Thus, there are basically three large groups of children: 0-9 years, 10-14 years, and 15-19 years. However, with respect to the playground equipment, only two first groups have value. Those two groups can be subdivided into three other groups of those who can play on the playgrounds, namely, toddlers (1-2 years), preschoolers (2-5 years), and school-age (5-14 years). As a result, when it comes to age restrictions, we deal only with that category of children from 1 to 14 years old. Further, since the category is extensive and diverse both in terms of physical and psychosocial development, playground equipment should reflect the existing distinctions between the children of different age subcategories. According to Yamini Durani, “in the safest playgrounds, play areas for younger children are separated from those meant for older kids and signs clearly designate each area to prevent confusion … Smaller equipment and spaces can cause problems for bigger kids.” That is to say, there should be at least three separate play zones for three different age groups. It is the responsibility of parents or adult supervisors on the playground to direct children to the correct zone according to their age. For instance, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission indicates that toddlers are allowed to play at ramps, small and low slides, climbing equipment under 32 inches high, and swings with full bucket seats. Meanwhile, preschoolers may also use stairways, seesaws, monkey bars, higher slides, and merry-go-rounds. Therefore, the differentiation is needed, and signposts, bushes, benches, or any other fence can assist in that regard. In other words, children have to be where their age group is.
In conclusion, playground equipment is one of the most adored kinds of outdoor leisure activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children. Adults are responsible for children’s safety and well-being. Since the playground equipment designers and manufacturers use only quality and durable material for the products, there are no weight limits. However, to avoid injuries caused by accidental collisions, playground equipment should be planned and signposted for three different age groups.