5 June 2024

Empower Outdoor Play: Essential Safety Tips for Childcare Providers

Outdoor play promotes children’s development. It provides them with the opportunity to be physically active, develop social skills, and explore the world around them. It is important that they can do this in a safe play environment so they can play freely and without worries. Accidents can happen, but risks can be minimized. The following tips and guidelines help ensure safety during outdoor play in childcare.


Safe Play Area and Equipment

Choose play equipment that is suitable for the age and developmental stage of the children in your childcare. For example, young children benefit from low climbing frames and soft materials, while older children need more challenging equipment. To keep an overview, it helps to create different play zones for each age group. It’s important to supervise young children when they are near more challenging equipment designed for older children.

Prevention is better than cure. Ensure that play equipment is sturdy and stable. Perform regular maintenance and repair or replace damaged parts immediately. Regularly check the play area for potential hazards. Look out for broken equipment, splinters, loose parts, sharp edges, and dangerous objects like glass or trash. Use a suitable impact-absorbing surface, such as rubber tiles, sand, or grass. This reduces the risk of serious injury in case of a fall.

Also, look beyond just the play equipment. Are there doors and gates where children can pinch their fingers? Does the play area border a wall with a corner where children could hurt themselves if they brush against it or fall? Consider how you can reduce these risks.


Supervision and Guidance

Ensure there are always enough staff members outside to monitor the children. The staff-to-child ratio should align with the age of the children and the size of the group, as required by policy. This requirement exists for a reason, as it helps staff adequately supervise the children.

It’s not enough for staff to just stand outside, occasionally looking around and only reacting when they hear a child has had an accident. Active supervision is best, meaning that a staff member moves through the play area, keeps an eye on potential dangers, and intervenes when necessary.

Help children play safely outside. Clearly explain what is and isn’t allowed during play. If a child wants to use equipment they have never used before or it looks unsafe, explain how to use it safely.


Preparation and Planning  

Good preparation is half the battle and can prevent a lot of issues. First, ensure there is always a first aid kit near the outdoor play area and that staff know how to use it.

Outdoor play is healthy, but extreme weather can make it unsafe. Always consider the weather. During extreme heat in summer or cold, some activities can be unsafe. If it has frozen, some surfaces will be very slippery. Ensure there is enough shade during hot weather and keep children warm on cold days.


Emergency Plans and Safety Procedures  

Every childcare location is required to describe how they ensure the safety of children and staff. This is called the safety policy. There should also be an emergency plan in case of serious injury, fire, or another emergency. Ensure staff are aware of these plans and that there is enough staff trained in first aid and child first aid.

Regularly conduct evacuation and safety drills to ensure children and staff know what to do in an emergency and to identify crucial and vulnerable moments during an evacuation.


Safe Outdoor Play with Arte Viva

Safe outdoor play is important for the overall development and well-being of children. By taking proactive measures and having a well-thought-out safety policy, childcare organizations can create an environment where children can play and learn freely. This ensures that play is not only fun but also safe.

Do you have questions about safe childcare or specific measures for indoors or outdoors? Feel free to contact us. We are happy to help.