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Playgrounds are a part of all of our childhood memories whether at school or the local public park, but, every year more than 200,000 kids are treated in emergency rooms from playground related injuries. Some injuries involve falls on hard surfaces, head entrapment, and strangulation by entanglement, while others are the result of design or maintenance defects or negligence.  Even scarier, are injuries due to a criminal act.

Police have removed a dozen razor blades glued to playground equipment in a western Illinois park after a two-year-old suffered minor cuts on his hands.  The razor blades were found attached with white putty to monkey bars and other equipment at MillenniumPark in East Moline, IL after a two-year-old boy suffered minor cuts on his hands.

As the weather begins to warm and children head to the swings and monkey bars, it is a good time to remind parents, as well as schools, about playground safety.  The best thing a parent, caregiver, and school administration can do is take precautions.  If you see something suspicious notify your local law enforcement right away.

Prevention is the key to keeping the children safe.  Here are some simple safety guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to make the playground fun and safe for kids.

  1. 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 or rubber-like materials.
  2. 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.
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. 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.
  5. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  6. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  7. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
  8. Check to make sure the equipment is anchored safely in the ground, all equipment pieces are in good working order, S-hooks are entirely closed, bolts are not protruding, and there are no exposed footings.  Equipment should be free of rust, splinters, and missing parts.  Ropes used as part of playground equipment should be secured on both ends.
  9. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.
  10. Make sure all children play on age-appropriate equipment.

Kids need to be active and have fun; falling down and getting cuts, scrapes, and bruises is a part of every childhood. But, we must all do our best to eliminate the hidden dangers. The Keenan’s Kids Foundation, founded by attorney Don Keenan, is a child safety organization dedicated to informing the public about child safety hazards. One of the foundation projects has been to establish basic standard of safety and maintenance for Atlanta’s playgrounds that will reduce the injuries suffered by children each year. By drawing attention to basic standards of safety for Atlanta playgrounds, The Keenan’s Kids Foundation’s goal is to increase public awareness that can be universally achievable.  Don has also written “365 Ways to Keep Kids Safe.” The purpose of the book is two-fold: to open the eyes of parents and caregivers to the hidden hazards and dangers in the world of children, and more importantly, to provide easy-to-follow steps to prevention.  This is a book that could keep a child you love from serious injury or death.  With the power of knowledge and the simple tools of prevention, a safe world for children is within reach.

Mark Bello has thirty-seven years experience as a trial lawyer and fifteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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