You take your child to the playground to get fresh air, exercise, and entertainment. However, there are some unseen dangers lurking there you should be aware of. One study showed that about 50 percent of playground equipment is contaminated with some type of bacteria, which causes illness. On top of that, playground equipment can contain traces of urine, blood, sweat, mucus, and saliva. That means the average playground isn’t so clean.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure your child’s exposure to these contaminants is reduced or eliminated.
1. Wash Hands Before and After Playing
Have your child wash their hands both before and after playing on a playground. This protects other children from germs your child might have and helps your child avoid germs lurking on the monkey bars or slide handles. Have your child use soap and water and sing through their ABCs to make sure hands are thoroughly washed.
2. Take Wet Wipes with You
Another idea is to take along wet wipes so you can easily wipe down the areas your child is most likely to touch. Sure, other parents might think you’re a germaphobe, but you have no way of knowing the last time the playground equipment was thoroughly cleaned – if ever. Wet wipes also come in handy for wiping off your child’s hands if there isn’t running water available.
3. Bring a Microfiber Towel
Perhaps you want to have a picnic lunch while spending the day at the park. Taking a microfiber towel along with some green cleaning spray is friendly to the environment and can help remove germs left behind by previous picnics. Microfiber towels use less liquid. One study showed that microfiber mops used 100 gallons less water to clean 100 hospital rooms. The same concept applies to microfiber towels used for cleaning.
4. Avoid Indoor Playgrounds
If at all possible, avoid indoor playgrounds and opt for outdoor ones instead. While germs lurk in both, indoor playgrounds see a lot of traffic. Parents on road trips wanting a few minutes of respite while their children play often use mall or fast food indoor play areas. However, there are some deadly bacteria that cause things such as meningitis lurking on that equipment.
5. Start a Crusade
Take the time to inform other parents, your community association and even the local parks department about the dangers of germs on playgrounds. Start a fundraiser to pay for regular disinfection of playground equipment. Not only will this make the play area safer for your own children, but you’ll be helping other children and parents in your community at the same time.
6. Ask Kids Not to Put Hands in Mouth
Teach your children not to put their hands in their mouth or near their nose. If germs lurk on the surface of their hands before they wash their hands, at least they won’t transfer those germs to their mouths. This is a good practice all the time, actually, so start when children are small and teach them to not put their hands in their mouths while playing. If you notice habits such as biting their nails, remind them to stop
7. Apply Nasal Sanitizer
There are a few products on the market that allow you to protect your child’s nasal cavities. This is useful to protect them from other children on the playground who may have the sniffles. If you don’t have any nasal sanitizer on hand, you can also rim their nostrils with a light coating of petroleum jelly.
8. Teach Best Sneezing Practices
If your child needs to sneeze or cough while playing, teach them to do so into the crook of their arm. This prevents the child spreading germs to others and may also help other children understand the best way to cough and sneeze to avoid spreading germs. If a child sneezes into their hands, then they touch equipment and spread mucus and saliva. Yuck.
Don’t Go Overboard
While it’s a good idea to put a few safety measures in place that protect your child and those around them, you also want to allow your child to enjoy life and experience the world. Plus, some bacteria exposure is good for your child. Balance these safe hygiene practices with common sense and your child will enjoy their play time.