Firefighters to train playground workers

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 06/97) - Almost a third of all childhood injuries happen in a playground.

According to the Canadian Standards Association, children and playgrounds aren't always a safe match.

Because of that firefighters, beginning this fall, will be training people who work with children -- primarily teachers and day-care employees -- to watch for the dangers associated with playground equipment.

"We've been trying to do this for awhile -- not that there's a problem with playground injuries, but it is a way to reduce injuries," said deputy fire chief Mike Lowing.

"It's one of the most common injury areas besides bike-related injuries."

According to data from Stanton Regional Hospital, most victims of playground injuries are between the ages of five and nine.

Lowing said that most of these kids are injured after hours (after school), when there's little or no supervision.

The most common childhood injuries are caused by falls, and many of them occur in playgrounds. Such injuries include falling on the ground, equipment, and other children.

All city playgrounds -- there's more than 30 of them -- have fall protection for the equipment. This means that there are features such as sand to cushion falls.

But besides falls, the majority of playground accidents happen on moving objects, such as swings and merry-go-rounds and slides, said Lowing.

He said there are three ways parents can decrease the chances of their children getting injured in the playground.

First, children can be supervised at all times when they are on equipment taller than 1.5 metres.

Second, parents can adjust the child's environment to make it safer. And third, problems with playground equipment should be reported to the city immediately.

Strangulation is also a concern on the playground. Parents should take care not to dress their children in loose clothing that may become entangled with the equipment.