Evenings at most Singapore playgrounds are a noisy affair. It is that time of the day when the child lets loose his inner monkey and tries out new stunts in an attempt to be cool in front of the other kids. Dangling precariously from bars, going head first down on slides; he is game for anything that is fun, challenging and out of the ordinary.
Very often we come across children trying out adult gym equipment! Mummy and daddy are usually busy catching up on social media updates. Helpers meanwhile, use the time to gossip with friends or make that call back home.
The child is usually left free and unsupervised, mostly for learning to be independent. But the big question is, "Are children really safe in Singapore playgrounds?"
More playground accidents in Singapore
According to Channel NewsAsia, more and more cases of playground-related accidents are being observed at the Children's Emergency of KK Hospital (KKH). KKH has been quoted as saying, "The number of cases have been high."
In fact, there has been a big jump from about 2000 cases in 2012, to more than 2500 cases in 2016. Which is why it comes as a welcome respite for parents that safety standards for Singapore playgrounds are going to be revised soon.
According to the SPRING Singapore, playgrounds in Singapore will be made safer for children when new safety standards are issued, in the first half of 2017. The standards will apparently be revised, "in line with new technological changes and safety practices".
Revised safety standards
According to SPRING Singapore, safety standards in Singapore are known as SS 457: 2007. They specify the "design, installation and maintenance of public play equipment". Revisions proposed include:
- Extra protective barriers for playground equipment which are of certain heights
- Installing all anchoring devices like nuts, bolts and cables below ground level to avoid children from tripping and falling over them
All playgrounds under the Housing and Development Board (HDB) need to meet these safety standards.
Are injuries good?
The revised guidelines will hopefully minimise injuries. However there is an alternative viewpoint that children of today are getting over protected. Some believe that the best way to keep children safe is to give them a little taste of danger.
Mr Jason Sim, managing director of playground consultancy firm Playpoint opines, "In another aspect, if you design a playground that's too safe, children will get bored of it."
Dr Yang Chien-Hui, a senior lecturer from the Early Childhood Education Programme at SIM University, has been quoted as saying, “We have to remember that everything is also a process of learning. If a child has no experience of getting injured, he doesn't know how to manage it in future. Having an injury is not such a terrible thing because it’s a learning process of children learning to cope, manage and solve it.”
She emphasises that outdoor play is crucial for the child’s cognitive abilities, gross and motor skills. As long as children are being supervised in the playground, they should do just fine.
How can we as parents prevent our children from being injured in playgrounds? Go to the next page to find out!
Play time is happy time for kids. As parents, here is what we can do to prevent them from having bad memories of playtime:
- Supervise your child closely and carefully. Ensure she is playing only on age-appropriate equipment.
- Avoid clothing with cords or drawstrings.
- Inspect the playground for hazards such as broken or poorly maintained equipment. Be wary of equipment with rusty bolts or sharp edges. Ensure there are strong handrails and barriers to prevent falls.
- Watch out for things in the play area that can trip your child, like tree stumps or rocks. Additionally, monkey bars are a danger to short kids. Being shorter, they dangle higher above the ground, and if they fall, they are more likely to suffer fractures or joint dislocation.
- Choose a playground that has rubber or sand underneath the equipment rather than concrete or grass, as it can help soften the blow of a fall in case of an accident.
(Source: Channel NewsAsia)
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