Now that summer vacation is in full swing, if your kids are visiting a playground, it’s likely that they are in full swing, too.

But when it comes to playground recreation — whether you’re at a park or on a swing set in your own back yard — you should remember that safety and fun go hand in hand.

It’s important to set and enforce safety rules for your child to help prevent an injury.

Steve Curry, parks maintenance supervisor for the city of Joplin, recommends doing a quick inspection of a playground and equipment before you allow your child to begin playing.

“Check to make sure the equipment hasn’t been damaged and check for broken glass or other dangerous items on the playground,” Curry said.

Sondra Bigley, owner and director of Kid-N-Company, said she has several rules for kids at her day care center to follow when they are playing on swings.

“No jumping out of a swing and no twisting in the swings," she said. "A child could land on their neck if they jump out of a swing. If they are twisting, they can’t control the speed and their brain can’t let them know when they’ve had enough. That may be just a fear of mine, but I don’t want to risk it.”

Twisting in a swing should also be avoided because it can lead to pinching.

When it comes to the slide, Bigley also has a few rules.

Only one child at a time can be on the slide, and they can only go down on their bottom.

“They could fall off the slide if they are standing on their feet,” said Bigley.

Good judgment should also be an important element on a playground.

“Don’t allow a 2-year-old on a big slide. It’s not designed for them,” said Curry.

Many accidents that occur on the playground are the result of unsupervised children doing something they shouldn’t, said Curry.

“It’s a matter of proper supervision on the parents’ part,” he said.

Bigley said it is important for parents to stay vigilant and watch what’s going on.

“Kids shouldn’t run on asphalt, only on grass. Count heads all the time and make sure everyone is accounted for,” she said. “Go over and over the rules until they know them.”

The National Program for Playground Safety offers the following tips for keeping your kids safe.

Strings on clothing or ropes used for play can cause accidental strangulation if caught on the equipment.

Make sure the equipment is age appropriate. Preschoolers age 2 to 5 and children ages 5 to 12 are developmentally different and should have their equipment located in separate areas.

Make sure surfaces are cushioned in case of a fall. Hardwood fiber/mulch, pea gravel, sand and synthetic materials such as rubber mats can help cushion falls.

Check to make sure playground equipment is anchored safely in the ground, that bolts are not protruding and that all pieces are in good working order.

Rachel Kubicek writes for The Joplin (Mo.) Globe.

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