Play Safety

How safe are our children while playing?

The following are important safety tips from Childsafe, a campaign of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa (CAPFSA), for parents to observe before letting their children to play in the neighbourhood:

All children are eager to play outdoors. While the outdoors provides a wonderful outlet for children to release energy, there is always the potential for “accidents”. Children need and want to take risks when they play. It is therefore important to offer children stimulating, challenging environments for exploring and developing their abilities. It is however also important that the environment should be such that children are not exposed to unacceptable risk of death or severe injury. Almost any environment contains hazards and sources of harm.

At birth we have to give children one hundred percent protection. As children grow older we have to slowly educate them and protect less, until they are old enough to protect themselves from injury.

As the Convention of the Rights of the Child state, children have a right to safe environments. We as adults, caregivers and parent have to take some responsibility to make sure that our children play and grow upon a safe environment without the threat of being hurt. Unfortunately, the environment children are exposed to poses various dangers that could lead to severe or fatal injuries.

Pre–school children cannot take responsibility of their own safety and it is therefore essential that they are supervised for or cared for by responsible adults or caregivers.

Why do children have more accidents than adults? It is important to be aware of the developmental stages of children in order to prevent accidents. Children in certain age groups have numerous limitations and are therefore at risk of injury.

Young children are at risk because:

  • They are still learning and do not always do things correctly.
  • They may not yet understand safety instructions.
  • They are easily distracted get excited and are adventurous.
  • They want to impress friends.
  • They are without sufficient supervision – it is hard to supervise children 24 hours a day.

The Child Accident Prevention Foundation suggests the following safety tips for parents to ensure that their children are safe while playing outside with other children from the neighbourhood.

  • It is the job of all that is responsible for children at play to assess and manage the level of risks that children are given at play. We need to provide controlled opportunities for children to encounter and manage risk otherwise they may be denied the chance to learn skills. If not, they are more likely to choose to play in uncontrolled environments where risk is greater.
  • Parents must have rules that children who are old enough to play by themselves must always tell caregivers or parents where they will be playing.
  • Designate and develop safe play areas within your own neighbourhood. Teach children where the safe places to play are, and warn them of possible danger areas in the neighbourhood that are not safe to play.
  • Make sure that you know where your children are playing and with who. Care groups of responsible adults can be formed to take turns to supervise children at play in the community.
  • Pre school children should be supervised during play at all times.
  • Scan and identify dangers in your neighbourhood and environment together with your children for possible danger. Notify your local council of danger areas that you have identified, and insist on making these safe in order to reduce the risks to children.
  • It is the local municipalities’ legal obligation to make sure that the environment is safe and free from dangers. Danger areas are for example, open masses of water, rubbish dumps, open water outlets and drains, canals and deep holes, old buildings, olds fridges or cars in the back yard or in the neighbourhood, sand dunes or building rubble, unsafe or poorly maintained play equipment in play parks, busy roads, open electrical wiring, unfenced electrical sub- stations and more.
  • Bored and unstimulated children could mean that children explore or create danger. So make sure that children are kept busy and have organized playtime, which could result in safe play.