Grand Rapids, MI (WXMI) — School is out for summer for most kids and a lot of families will be spending their time outside at the park. One mother is warning others about the dangers of playgrounds with a message that’s gone viral on social media.
Doctors say playground injuries are one of the top three most common things kids come into the emergency room for in the summer months. For Heather Clare, her message comes with a graphic photo that shows the moment her daughter’s leg was broken as she was going down the slide.
“I took Meadow down the slide and [my husband] happened just to catch literally the moment that her leg was breaking” said Heather Clare.
The picture taken by Clare’s husband in 2015 shows her daughter’s foot getting caught between her leg and the slide, breaking her tibia and fibula.
“It is never a good idea to have more than one child or adult on the slide at a time,” said Jennifer Hoekstra, injury prevention specialist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “The weight of an adult or a sibling behind that younger child on the slide can be just enough to continue propelling them even if their foot or leg happens to get caught on the slide.”
Hoekstra says playground injuries send 27,000 children across the country to the emergency room every year.
“That number is crazy to me, but it’s also really important to understand as much as it’s a fun place to be, we have to do it correctly,” said Hoekstra.
Clare shared the picture as a warning to other parents and it’s since been shared almost 100,000 times, including by a fire department here in West Michigan.
“We were really shocked to find out how common that injury is,” said Clare.
“If the monkey bars are there and they make you as a mom or a dad nervous, stay off the monkey bars,” said Hoekstra. “If the slide looks to steep, find a different place to play.”
Hoekstra says trust your gut as a parent. If you don’t think your kid is old enough to do it on their own, then don’t let them do it at all even if you try and help.
“I encourage parents to really know the area, know the slide, know the playground and see what is age appropriate,” said Hoekstra. “If you don’t feel right about it, make it next summer’s activity. It really is important to know the level of your child.”
Doctors say injuries from slides and monkey bars are the most common and they see a lot of broken arms and legs because of it. They also say you shouldn’t let your kids wear hooded sweatshirts with the loose strings because those often can get caught in the equipment. The same goes for bike helmets since the straps can get caught, as well.
Meadow Clare had to do physical therapy for six months after breaking her leg. She is fine now, but has to see a doctor once a year to make sure her legs are growing at the same rate.