In many parts of the country, the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are changing colors – it is time to put on those fall jackets and get outside and play! I love this time of year and there is no better time to focus on fall sport safety. Get outside on the monkey bars, ropes and slides! Go kick the balls around on the soccer field! Join your buddies playing baseball, football, or lacrosse! Or grab your “wheels” of choice for some riding fun – bikes, skateboards, scooters, or skates!
Fall is the time for being active and having fun! But remember to be safe while doing so…
Playing It Safe!
Each year, more than 200,000 children go to emergency departments with injuries associated with playground equipment. Most injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment onto the ground. We urge parents, kids, teachers, and other caregivers to pay attention when kids are playing on playgrounds and to check out the playgrounds to ensure the equipment is safe. Here’s a playground safety checklist:
- Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or are mats made of safety-tested rubber.
- Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
- Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
- Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends.
- Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
- Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
- Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
- Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
- Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition.
- Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.
Kicking It Up for Safety!
Many people do not know that movable soccer goals can fall over and kill or injure children who climb on them or hang from the crossbar. The CPSC has reports of at least 36 deaths since 1979 and an estimated 120 injuries were treated each year in emergency departments during the period 1989 through 1993, all of these deaths and injuries resulting from soccer goals falling over. Both homemade and professionally manufactured soccer goals are involved in these incidents.
Parents, coaches, and caregivers should follow these steps to ensure kids’ safety on the soccer field:
- Securely anchor or counter-weight movable soccer goals at all times.
- Never climb on the soccer net or goal framework.
- Always instruct soccer players on the safe handling of and potential dangers associated with movable soccer goals.
- Use movable soccer goals only on flat fields.
- Check all connecting hardware before every use. Replace damaged or missing fasteners immediately.
- Ensure safety labels are clearly visible.
- Remove nets when goals are not in use.
- Anchor or chain goals to nearby fence posts, dugouts or similar sturdy fixtures when not in use.
- Fully disassemble goals for seasonal storage.
Stay Smart – Protect Your Head and Brain!
The fall is also a great time for playing all kinds of activities and sports. Whether it is skiing, biking, hiking or kayaking, I love being active outdoors. But one thing I have known for a long time, even before I became a Commissioner, is always wear a helmet when doing any activity in which a head injury is possible!
When kids and adults get geared up to play football, lacrosse and baseball, or go skateboarding, biking, scootering or skating, make sure they are wearing a properly fitted helmet for the sport! As you may know, there are many types of helmets and it is important to understand the best ways for you and your family to wear the right one. Whatever the sports activity, it is critical that you choose the right helmet, ensure the helmet fits you properly, and engage in the activity appropriately so that both your head and your brain remain protected!
Chairman Kaye has been a leader in this area for years promoting brain safety so that all children may reach their potential. His recent blog post on this issue is here. Also check out the CPSC’s information on helmet safety here. For general bicycle safety information take a look here.
Enjoy your fall and stay safe!