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Is Your Outdoor Preschool Play Area Summer Safe? 3 Tips To Avoiding Injuries And Lawsuits That Can Follow

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If you own or manage a preschool, with the arrival of spring, your children will likely be spending time outdoors in a play area that may have suffered some wear-and-tear this winter in the harsh elements. While no one can protect children against occasional bump or scrapes when playing tag or a game of make-believe, you can make sure you don't have faulty playground equipment that sets children up for accidents, even when they are playing carefully. Follow these steps to avoiding accidents among your preschool children, and potential lawsuits from parents that can follow. 

1. Know What Injuries You Can Be Liable For

There are many types of injuries that can occur on a playground, but there are only some that you can be held liable for. One exception to this rule is any injury that could have been avoided if the child was under proper supervision, and you neglected to provide this supervision. For this reason, always have a staff member supervising the children on your playground with his or her full attention. Don't allow staff to read a book or play a game on their smartphones while on playground-watch duty. 

You can also be held liable for injuries that occur due to unsafe or unclean equipment. So, make sure to clean all playground equipment with a sanitizing solution before opening the playground for springtime and at the end of each day. Also, inspect all equipment for damage that could have occurred over the winter or at the end of last summer before you let even one child onto the playground. 

2. Properly Inspect All Equipment

When that rare early-spring warm day hits, the children may begin bugging your staff to get outside and play before the equipment has been inspected and fully prepared for spring and summer. Do not give into their pleas, and instruct your teachers to wait until you give them the full green-light that the playground is ready for the spring. Out of all playground injuries, 67-percent are the result of either falls or faulty equipment. 

While you cannot prevent all falls, you can make sure no injuries occur due to faulty equipment.

Here are some guidelines on how to inspect each specific piece of playground equipment:

Swing Sets: First, ensure chains are in good shape and the pieces that connects the chain to the top of the set, called hangars, are not damaged in any way. Then, examine seats, including the area where the seat attaches to the chain. Have a light staff member take a seat and have a few gentle swings on each seat (as long as he or she is not above the set's weight limit) to listen for squeaks that need a little grease or any other apparent problems. 

Slides: The most important safety feature of most slides is their side rails, and hopefully you originally chose your slides based on safety guidelines. However, make sure these sides are still in perfect shape and not buckling. Also make sure there are no sharp pieces sticking up on any area of the slide that could pierce a child's delicate skin. 

Since another of the top playground injuries is falls, make sure all stairways leading to slides are in perfect shape and have no loose rungs that cause a child to fall when climbing. Visually inspect stairs and give them each a good push with your hand downwards. They should not budge when testing them this way. 

All-in-One Sets: When inspecting all-in-one play sets or jungle gyms, first inspect each separate element of it, then check platforms children stand on while waiting their turn, rope climbers, and any other small accessories.

3. Have Parents Fill out Playground Consent Forms

To help protect yourself even further from lawsuits, work with an attorney to have a consent form drawn up that all parents must sign before their children use the playground this spring. This can help you avoid having parents claim that they never gave you explicit approval for their child to use certain playground equipment or other claims they may later make if their child does become injured. 

Don't attempt to create one on your own, as you don't want to create a document that ends up being unlawful or that you are not able to use in court. A local attorney will know exactly what to include on this document to help you avoid frivolous lawsuits from parents after their child bumps into another or suffers another injury that you had no control over. 

Spring is here, and it is time for your preschool children to begin using the outdoor playground soon. With the right preparation, you can protect your children from injury as much as you can, and avoid lawsuits that can occur when children do suffer those inevitable small scratches or bumps when playing that are just part of being a child. For more information about personal injury law, meet with professionals sites like