If you have young kids and you call the Phoenix area home, the abundance of splash pads and water parks may be one of your favorite summertime perks. When the temperatures spike to unbearable levels, cooling down at a neighborhood splash pad can seem like a great idea. Your kids can burn off energy while staying cool and being as loud as they want. On the surface, it seems like a winning situation for everyone involved.
While splash pads are a wonderful asset to many communities, they can also pose a number of very serious safety risks that far too few parents understand. Regardless of your children’s ages, if you plan to visit a splash pad or water park in Arizona this summer, keep the following issues in mind.
Slipping and tripping at a splash pad is very common. Kid are excited to play and may forget basic safety concepts as a result, leading to an incident where they may be hurt. Add to that mix a wet and often slippery surface and it is not hard to see why every year, kids need to be treated in emergency rooms due to injuries sustained at a splash pad. To prevent these injuries, enforce the same rules you would if you were around a swimming pool. Make sure your children understand that running is forbidden and that they should be extra cautious when they are walking in a slippery area. Young kids will not understand that their actions will affect their safety so stay close to them if your child is little. Being close will let you catch your child if she falls or will help you prevent your young one from striking her head or other body parts on a hard surface.
Water shoes are a great idea for many of the splash pads around Maricopa County. They will let your kids play freely while providing them with a little extra traction for walking, limiting the odds of your kids falling. Water shoes will also serve as a protective barrier between your child’s feet and the ground that he is walking on so that your child will not be harmed by rocks, garbage, or any other debris in the area.
Surprisingly, the water itself may be the biggest safety threat at a splash pad. Waterborne illnesses and bacteria can proliferate in the water that is used at a splash pad and can infect dozens or even hundreds of kids in a short time. A typical splash pad uses water that is recirculated through an underground reservoir where it is filtered and treated with chlorine. Chlorine is used in water treatment for good reason – it kills many germs and bacteria within minutes – but it does not kill all types of possible infectants quickly, including many parasites. A number of parasites may require exposure to chlorine for an extended period of time before they die but the design of splash pads does not allow for this delay before the treated water is used once again. In practical terms, this means that one child with diarrhea or other contagious illness at a splash pad can contaminate the entire water system, exposing all others at the splash pad that day and possibly in subsequent days to the germs she possess.
Parents can play a significant role in the sanitary nature and the safety of splash pads. If your child is sick, do not take her to a splash pad but rather avoid the area until your child is well. If you have young children who are not yet potty trained, make sure you use a swim diaper instead of a regular disposal diaper. The reusable swim diapers are preferred to disposable ones as they are less likely to leak. Do not let your child drink the water at a splash pad or place their open mouth anywhere near water as this is a primary way for germs to spread. Finally, make sure you bathe your child thoroughly after playing at a splash pad and wash their hands and faces before they eat or drink. By taking certain precautions, you can limit the risks of an injury to your child or minor when you visit a splash pad.
Prior Blog Entry:
Be Wary of Pedestrian Safety during Arizona Baseball Season, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published June 7, 2016.