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If avoiding trips to the emergency room is one of your goals this warm-weather season, take a look at the recommendations, which cover playgrounds, scooters and trampolines. If you let your grade-schooler ride an ATV, you're on your own.

Playgrounds:

  • Surfaces should be soft and spongy, such as those available on newer public playgrounds or loose-fill material such as wood chips at 9 to 12 inches deep, often used on home playgrounds. When kids fall, hard surfaces increase injuries.
  • Guardrails and barriers are needed on any platform higher than 30 inches.
  • No openings between 3-1/2 and 9 inches. Such holes could trap a child's head.
  • No jump ropes, pet leashes or cords of any kind should be used on playground equipment; youngsters get strangled.
  • Children should remove bicycle and scooter helmets while on the playground; the straps get snagged and children get choked.
  • Adults should supervise children through age 12.
  • Look for playgrounds with separate structures for kids ages 2 to 5 and for those 6 to 12.
  • Scan public playgrounds for loose screws, nails and debris.
  • Teach playground etiquette — no pushing or roughhousing.
  • Keep up maintenance on home playgrounds, checking for tight connections and wear.

Sources: Consumer Product Safety Commission; National Program for Playground Safety; Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Trampolines:

  • One person at a time on the trampoline.
  • No somersaults; landing on the head or neck can cause devastating injuries.
  • Shock-absorbing pad should cover the trampoline's frame, springs and hooks.
  • Pads should be placed on the ground several feet around the trampoline.
  • Trampoline must be placed away from structures, other play areas and overhead lines.
  • No ladders or chairs should be used to get on the trampoline; they encourage use by younger children.
  • No children younger than 6.
  • Adults should supervise at all times, preferably two adult spotters.
  • Netting may help reduce injuries but should not be used in place of adult supervision.
  • Trampolines should not be used in the dark or when wet.

Sources: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Scooters, skateboards:

  • Wear a helmet, which can prevent 85 percent of head injuries.
  • Wear wrist guards to help prevent serious wrist injuries, plus elbow pads, kneepads and gloves.
  • Avoid surfaces with gravel and loose dirt.
  • Don't ride in the street or anywhere with traffic.
  • No night riding.
  • Especially for skateboarding, learn how to fall: Land on your fleshy parts, such as the bottom; roll in an attempt to avoid fractures; try to relax rather than stiffen when you hit the ground.
  • Children 5 and younger shouldn't skateboard. Children ages 6 to 10 need supervision by an adult or a trusted adolescent.
  • For scooters, children younger than 8 must be supervised by an adult.

Sources: Children's Mercy Hospital; Consumer Product Safety Commission; Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America.

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