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Playground Slides’ Surprising Risk


Standing at the top of a playground slide can be intimidating and exciting for a toddler—and for us parents watching our toddler. Some of us choose to lessen the possible blow of a tumble by sliding with our kid, but new findings show that doing so may cause more harm than good. 

A study done by Dr. John Gaffney, a pediatric orthopedic specialist at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York, found that nearly 14 percent of pediatric leg fractures treated over an 11-month period were caused by toddlers riding down playground slides on an adult’s lap. The force of an adult’s weight behind a child can end up breaking a kid’s leg if it gets caught while sliding down.

Dr. Gaffney has already treated three leg fractures caused by an adult sliding with a child just in this month alone, he told The New York Times. He conducted this study because he, as well as many other orthopedics specialists, treats so many of these similar accidents.

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Dr. Edward Holt, an orthopedic surgeon at Anne Arundel Medical Center, who has treated multiple slide-related fractures, told the Times that this injury is entirely preventable—and that these incidents can go beyond physical damage to damaging the parents' relationship with each other, should one blame the other. In response, Dr. Holt has created warning posters for local pediatrician offices and a You Tube video about the threat of this seemingly protective action. His intent is not to discourage parents from taking their kid to the playground, but instead for them to be mindful of certain preventable hazards.

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What’s the best solution?  Let the child ride down the slide by himself. Supervise or place him on the slide at the halfway point and stand next to the slide as he rides down (this way, if a foot gets caught he can stop moving and free himself). However, if an adult still ends up on a slide with a toddler, the child’s shoes should be removed, and the adult should make sure the child’s legs don’t come in contact with the slide.

Do you slide with your kid?  Has your child ever experienced an accident as a result? (We've definitely been there with our kids—fortunately without any broken legs—but we understand just how quickly and unexpectedly it could happen!)