As part of the City of Cape Town's efforts to provide safe play areas for children in city parks, the Parks Department has installed a shock-absorbing mat beneath playground equipment.
A play park in the Sea Point area that is in use on a daily basis has been fitted with the latest synthetic matting, which should significantly reduce the impact of falls and the severity of injuries occasionally experienced by children in play parks.
Its contribution to safe playground activity, durability and cost effectiveness will be assessed in the hope that it will prove suitable for installation at other play parks around Cape Town.
"Although the onus is on parents, child-minders and teachers to remain vigilant when children use play parks - something that is stressed by warning signs in the City's parks - accidents unfortunately do occur," the City said.
A workshop aimed at gaining greater understanding of the problem and finding suitable solutions was hosted by the Western Cape Branch of the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management (IERM).
Nelmarie du Toit of the Child Accident Prevention Unit at the Red Cross Children's Hospital presented statistics about injuries resulting from playground equipment. She reported that playground injuries are common and sometimes serious.
High risk playground injuries include fall injuries from jungle gyms, swings and slides, while impact injuries are caused by moving swings and collisions with other children.
Strangulation is caused by drawstring entanglements, ropes, bike helmets, and scarves, and playground injuries vary from cuts and lacerations, fractures and abrasions.
The five year review on falls from playground equipment undertaken by the Red Cross Children's Hospital, assessed 1 405 resulting injuries.
Almost 60 percent of falls occurred in a public place, also indicating that most playgrounds have a tarred surface beneath equipment.
Of the children injured, 32 percent were aged between one and four years of age, and 53 percent between five and nine years. Almost half the more serious injuries were fractures.
Most of the children that are on average injured per month on public play equipment are at City parks.
Specific attention will be paid to playground equipment design and the types of surfaces beneath the equipment.
Ms du Toit, and Carin van Niekerk, an occupational therapist, emphasised that playgrounds should be safe environments for children which they can enjoy and where they can explore, test their skills and meet other children.
Ms van Niekerk explained that playground play is critical for the development of a child and even contributes to analytical skills when a child goes to school.
Playgrounds need to provide a variety of opportunities for children to climb, hang and swing in different directions and planes, explained Ms van Niekerk.
The IERM aims to offer exposure and access to creative thinking in an integrated and sustainable environment through recreation management.
The institute provides professionals with an invaluable opportunity to network and exchange information that will improve the quality of service delivery to ratepayers and visitors. - BuaNews
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