When it comes to working off some wild kid energy, jungle gyms are an easy sell. Who hasn’t turned the car in reverse on a busy afternoon errand run and said, “That’s it, we’re going to the playground!” I certainly have. But even if these monkey bar oases can be truly lifesaving at times, parents should know to never let down their guard. As medical practitioners will tell you, there are lots of important things doctors want you to know about jungle gyms.
All too often, caregivers think of playgrounds as safe, kid-friendly, supervised environments. That's according to Aynsley Birkner, the Pediatric Injury Prevention Coordinator and Safe Kids Charleston Area Coordinator at Medical University of South Carolina, who tells Romper that without the proper precautions, playgrounds can put kids at risk of injury... and jungle gyms are one of the most dangerous things on the playground. “According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, emergency departments in the U.S. treat more than 200,000 children for playground-related injuries every year,” Birkner says. “Injuries resulting from falls are the most common and climbing equipment, such as monkey bars, accounts for the majority of injuries that occur on public playgrounds.”
Dr. William Melvin Brown, III, a board-certified emergency medicine physician in Charleston, South Carolina, agrees. "There is not a week that goes by that I don't see a playground injury," says Dr. Brown. The most common? Fractures from falling off the jungle gym. "A lot of the main issues are the surfaces kids are falling onto," Dr. Brown adds. In fact, his Emergency Room even has a shorthand for it: FOOSH = Fall On Outstretched Hand. So how can you prevent your own FOOSH nightmare?