When winter sets in and the days and nights turn chilly, it can be tempting to ride out the colder months indoors, particularly for adults with children who do not want to take the time to dress their youngsters in thermals and coats. But playing outside is linked to a variety of positive outcomes for children, including improved sensory skills, focus, and attention span. Finding safe places for children to play outdoors in the winter is a must.
Schools also still benefit from getting children outdoors even when it is cold. Allowing children space to get out a little energy can improve classroom performance and minimize behavioral difficulties for many students. Playgrounds are in consistent use all through the school year in many areas.
Playgrounds, whether municipal playgrounds or school playgrounds, are always dangerous, but winter weather can increase risks for a variety of reasons, including:
- Ice on sidewalks, slides, and other surfaces increasing the risk of slips and falls
- The possibility of hypothermia, frost bite, or other cold-related injuries
- Increased risk of loss of balance due to heavy clothing worn to protect against the chill
Schools should be wary of these potential injury risks and plan accordingly. Having staff assigned to monitor the playground is a must, as is providing a visual sweep of the environment to determine whether or not the area is safe for children. Being willing to shut down the playground as necessary for student safety is a priority.
If your child has been injured in a playground accident, determining whether or not proper safety protocols were in place and followed is important. Determining the entity with responsibility for the safety of the area is a pivotal step in figuring out just went wrong. Please, consult with an experienced attorney regarding your case.