Playgrounds may appear innocent, but they contain more germs than public restrooms! Unlike bathrooms, playground equipment doesn’t get cleaned and sanitized as often. You may think that because the equipment is outdoors, the germs get washed away by rain. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Why Germs Love Playgrounds
Kids are known for using their hands as tissues; we’ve all seen it a time or two. When mucous gets on the hands, it can be transferred to other surfaces, including slides, monkey bars, and swings. Imagine all of the kids that visit the park on a given day. Dirt prevents the germs from dying, which means they can live successfully on park equipment for up to three days.
Meanwhile, when your child visits the park, they touch the surfaces that other kids have already come in contact with. The equipment is rarely – if ever – cleaned. To make matters worse, parks also see activity from wildlife such as raccoons, squirrels, and birds. These animals leave behind droppings, which can carry parasites and other harmful diseases.
Tips for Avoiding Playground Germs
Omitting the playground altogether is not practical for parents or children. Kids need to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. In fact, a day in the sunshine can help boost immunity! Instead, practice healthy habits when visiting the park, just as you might do when using a public restroom. Let’s take a look at how you can help your child avoid germs on the playground.
Clean your child’s hands. When it’s time to leave the park, get into the habit of cleaning your child’s hands. Because soap and water probably aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer instead.
Keep hands away from the face. Germs and bacteria can enter through the eyes, nose, or mouth, so teach your child to keep his or her hands away from the face.
Stay home if sick. If your child is sick, do the other kids a favor and stay home. This will help stop the spread of contagious infections in your community.
Cover the sandbox. If you have your own playground in the backyard, keep it covered when it’s not in use. You may not have a lot of other children playing in your sandbox, but a cover can protect it from wildlife.
Wipe down surfaces. Bring along sanitizing wipes when visiting the park. It’s not practical to wipe down every surface, but you can disinfect certain objects such as baby swings and picnic tables.
There’s no reason to avoid the playground, but taking proper precautions to avoid germs can reduce the number of times your child gets sick this season. And we say, that’s worth it.