Winter is over — the snow is gone, and the spring melt is drying up. With temperatures rising, you’ll want your children to get outside more often. What better way to encourage outside play than going to the park. Parks offer a variety of enjoyable activities as well as a chance to interact with nature. Maybe your children have already been asking you to take them there.

Before you make a day of it, here are ten safety tips for springtime at the park.

  1. Dress for Safety

Check you local weather before you head out. Make sure no rain or snow is coming, and bring extra items such as another jacket, a blanket and an umbrella for extra protection and unexpected changes. Avoid long dresses or hooded sweatshirts with strings. They can get caught in playground equipment and potentially cause harm to your children.

  1. Use Appropriate Footwear

 Your children will be running around at a park and playing on playground equipment. They might be tempted to wear sandals or flip flops, but don’t let them. Flip flops and sandals aren’t made for running, and they can get things like wood chips and rocks stuck in them.

You don’t want your day to end early with a painful fall. Persuade your children to wear athletic shoes and make sure the laces are tied and are not too long.

  1. Use Sunscreen

 It’s best to lather your children with sunscreen at home before they get to the park and see all the equipment. This will give the sunscreen a chance to dry, and you won’t have to chase your children around later. Use SPF 50 or greater. There are many sunscreen products made especially for children.

  1. Bring Water and Healthy Snacks

 Kids are active on the playground, and it’s easy for them to get tired, hungry and thirsty. You don’t want them to get dehydrated, as this could lead to dizziness and possibly even fainting.

Bring bottled water, or make up a jug of ice water before you leave. Pack orange slices, mini carrots or celery for a healthy, crunchy snack. A bag of Cheerios is always a healthy hit with kids. Don’t let them run around with food or water, and establish a break time for eating and drinking.

  1. Inspect Equipment for Safety

Check playground equipment for loose bolts, splinters and sharp edges. Check swings for cracks, frayed ropes or rusty chains. Inspect the surfaces of the playground for broken glass, cigarette butts, animal waste and other dangerous and unsightly debris.

It’s also helpful to keep band aids and antibiotic ointment on hand. A scrapped knee or elbow doesn’t have to tank the whole day, especially if there’s a small treat tucked away for an injured kid.

  1. Use Age Appropriate Equipment

 Playground equipment choices vary depending on where you go. You may have swings and slides or monkey bars and jungle gyms. Children have different levels of skill and agility, and you are the best judge of what is safe for your child.

It’s natural for younger children to want to be with the older ones, but steer your child to the equipment that offers safe and enjoyable play. It’s no fun when someone gets hurt. 

  1. Teach Playground Etiquette

Maybe you will get the whole park to yourself, but that isn’t likely. Teach your children to take turns, to share and to accept other children in their circle of play. That doesn’t mean you let yourself get stuck babysitting other people’s kids.

It just means the park belongs to everyone, and your kids should get along without pushing or fighting over usage of equipment. Make sure your children know to tell you if others are bothering them or breaking the rules. 

  1. Always Supervise Your Children 

We’ve all seen parents who don’t. They think the playground is a free babysitter and are naïve or irresponsible about their children’s behavior and safety. You need to have eyes on your children at all times. Anticipate their next move before they do something unsafe.

Be aware of where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. As your children get older and more able, you can relax a bit more.

  1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Most people at the park are there to have fun. They want to play on the equipment, enjoy the outdoors, play tennis or basketball. Sadly, there are people who target areas where children will be and where they think parents will be unsuspecting.

You don’t have to be unfriendly, but never let unknown adults approach your children. Teach your children to come to you if anyone asks them to do anything or take anything from them. You don’t have to be paranoid, but be aware.

  1. Know Your Children’s Limits

If your kid is crying for no reason, it’s probably time to go home. If you notice them falling a lot more than usual, they have probably had enough. Know when it’s time to end your day at the park before it ends with an injury or meltdown.

Children play hard, and they get tuckered out. Set limits with your children beforehand so they know when you say it’s time to go there won’t be any arguments. After a big day of play, a nap is generally in order — maybe for them, too.

Going to the park is an inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend time doing activities with your family. Playing it safe will make your time at the park much more memorable and rewarding. Your day at the park should be fun, happy and safe.