Why You Should Never Ride Down a Slide with a Child

Spending time with your child on the playground is truly one of life’s simple pleasures. You know these precious years are fleeting, so you want to enjoy them while they last, right?

Exploring the playground alongside your child is a great way to enjoy this time together, but there is one instance when you should step back and let your little ones explore alone. Some parents have found out the hard way that going down the slide with their kids can result in sprains, fractures, or worse.

Heather Clare’s story (from US Weekly magazine) is just one example. In 2015, she went down a slide with her 12-month-old daughter. The photo (linked in the article above) shows the exact moment when something horrific happened.

Parents like Heather think they’re keeping their child stay safe by going down the slide with them, but the risk of serious injury is significant. A heavy adult behind a small child means a leg turned in the wrong direction can quickly bend too far. That’s what Heather’s daughter (Meadow) experienced when her leg broke while the mother and daughter rode down the slide together.

According to the US Weekly Article written by Rachel P. Abrahamson, Heather shared the photo hoping to spare other parents and children from the same pain her daughter felt and the guilt that she feels over the incident. Abrahamson goes on to mention that the emergency room doctor advised there is no safe way to go down a slide with your child, and that the weight of a person behind the child doesn’t allow them to stop if a limb gets caught.

How does it happen? Shoes with rubber soles create traction. When a child goes down a slide wearing rubber-soled shoes, the shoes can stick to the surface of the slide. Legs can bend and torsos can twist. Normally, the child pulls his or her leg back in the correct direction and continues down the slide. But when you add the weight of a full-grown parent behind the child, there isn’t time to stop and straighten out the legs. They keep getting pushed forward.

According to an abstract from the U.S. Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the injury is often a tibia spiral fracture (break of the shin bone). Every year, orthopedic specialists see toddlers and young children with these injuries. An estimated 352,698 children under the age of 6 were injured riding a slide while on a parent’s lap in the United States between 2002 and 2015. One study tracked kids at Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, New York and found that nearly 14 percent of pediatric leg fractures over an 11-month period involved toddlers riding down the slide with a parent. The study also showed that every single slide injury for kids under 3 happened while riding on a parent’s lap.

If you have a very small child and don’t feel comfortable letting them ride alone, place them on the slide at the halfway point while you stand next to the slide. Take off their shoes if they’re wearing rubber-soled sneakers, and make sure your child’s legs don’t touch the sides or sliding surface.

While you’re on the playground, watching your little one go down the slide, there are a couple of additional things to be mindful of. Hot slide surfaces can be very consequential. Direct sunlight can heat plastic and metal slides enough to cause serious injuries. Surprisingly, it doesn’t even have to be all that hot outside.

Be sure your kids are wearing long pants if the play equipment feels hot to the touch, and always be sure to touch the surface of the slide on a sunny day before letting your child climb on.

The other common slide safety issue is insufficient safety surfacing. Falls around slides are inevitable, so the area around a slide needs have the proper playground safety surfacing to help protect against serious injuries.

Safety-tested poured-in-place rubber surfacing or rubber mulch from No Fault can help prevent injuries. This surfacing should extend at least 6 feet around play equipment and be professionally installed. Contact us if you need safety surface for your play area; our experts will be happy to answer your questions and “slide into” the right safety surfacing products to fit your needs.

No Fault Project Spotlight – Wadewitz Dream Big Playground, Racine, Wisconsin

No Fault partnered with Northland Recreation to provide our No Fault Safety Surface for the “Wadewitz Dream Big Playground” at Wadewitz Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin.  Wadewitz Elementary School is a large kindergarten through 5th grade school with more than 600 students in the Racine Unified School District.  Because they have children who use wheelchairs and other children with different physical and developmental disabilities, they have a need for an inclusive playground.  In fact, 22% of the school’s students have special needs.  Their old playground was not accessible at all, almost 20 years old, and in very bad shape.

The Wadewitz playground committee was a small group of 7 teachers and staff members plus the principal.  They had a “big dream” of making their playground an area where all students could play together.  Northland Recreation started working with the school on planning its playground in September of 2016, and the committee never stopped their fundraising efforts.

Their hard work fundraising over the past few years combined with the generosity from the community made it possible for the dream of an inclusive playground to become a reality.  To help control costs, the school decided on a community install.  Northland Recreation sent several supervisors to help manage the week-long equipment installation.  The community of Racine stepped up and put their construction skills to work assembling this large playground.

The total project was around 6,200 square feet and featured a bright green poured-in-place surface.  Having the full rubber surfacing was an important part of making this playground accessible and welcoming to all the students.  The No Fault Safety Surface is perfect for this inclusive playground since it’s slip-resistant, safe, and allows greater accessibility for wheelchairs and other mobility devices.  The beautiful green color of the surfacing really complements the play equipment that was chosen.  Beauty and safety combine to make a unique and attractive play space!

The new playground has two main areas.  The first area is ramped up to 48” and features many inclusive components. It includes different sensory play panels and slides.  This main structure is linked by the Little Tikes Commercial NRG Hoop Alley to a secondary area. This secondary structure features components that are a little taller and more challenging for the older children.  In addition to the structures, there are many independent and ground level activities that are fun for everyone.  Some of these include the revolution spinner, two of Little Tikes Commercials’ Concerto musical components, the wobble sphere, and more play panels.

Just like any other project, there was a tight timeline to get this playground area completed for the grand opening. With the cooperation of Mother Nature, the hard work of school volunteers, and the partnership between No Fault and Northland Recreation, we were able to pull it off.  The public was elated at the grand opening celebration. The students and the community will enjoy this playground for years to come!

Lisa Johnson with Wadewitz Elementary School stated, “The Wadewitz Dream Big Playground has been a dream come true for our school and community. After years of hard work, it is so heart warming to see our kids smile and play with all of their peers.”


Contact us for more information on our No Fault Safety Surface.  Our friendly account managers are ready to help you design the playground of your dreams.  So dream big!