No Playing around with Children's Safety

By Holmes, Mike | Winnipeg Free Press, November 10, 2012 | Go to article overview

No Playing around with Children's Safety


Holmes, Mike, Winnipeg Free Press


I'M always talking about different ways to make your home better, healthier and safer.

You know the saying "think outside the box?" Well, it's important to think outside the home -- especially if we're talking about children's safety. Taking care of your kids goes beyond the walls of your house.

Playing outdoors is an important part of growing up and it helps children develop strong social skills and self confidence. Part of our job as parents, grandparents, guardians or caregivers is to make sure we provide safe environments where kids can play.

I remember when I was a kid, the playground was the epicentre of fun. You could run, jump, climb and swing until you were completely exhausted.

Bruises, bumps and scratches are all part of growing up and they happen all the time. But the problem is when the injuries are more serious, such as broken bones or head trauma. That's why safety measures need to be taken to prevent kids from being seriously hurt on playgrounds.

In Canada we have the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), which provides safety guidelines on everything from gas fireplaces to electrical safety. Since 1990, the CSA has been providing standards to help keep kids safe on public playgrounds. This includes information on materials, proper installation, equipment requirements, safety inspections and maintenance.

These guidelines get revised and updated based on new research. But they aren't law; they're voluntary. That means on a national level there's no one going around inspecting playgrounds to make sure they meet CSA standards. Instead, we have regulations -- and depending on where you live in Canada, these regulations will be different.

This past summer I was involved in a rebuild project that was definitely "out of the box" for me. We rebuilt a playground in Toronto's High Park. It was the first time many of us had ever built a playground. We might be experts in construction but we weren't experts in playground safety. So I did what I always do: I brought in the pros.

Playground safety inspectors have the right skills and training to evaluate how safe a playground is. We had an inspector come out every couple days of the build to look over everything. Usually they come at the end of the build, but we were on a tight schedule. It was easier for the inspector to be there to catch potential problems and correct them immediately instead of waiting until the end. …

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