Spotlight: Play smart, play safe

Both outdoor and indoor recreational activities are a necessity in the all-round physical and mental development of children. While these activities have got smarter, they also pose a serious risk if safety guidelines are not followed under any circumstances. Last week, a 10-year-old boy was critically injured following a fall while climbing an ‘artificial rock wall’ at an indoor adventure park in Muscat. The child suffered serious multiple injuries and was transferred to hospital for treatment and his condition is still said to be critical, official sources said.
A few years ago a child died while enjoying an electronic joy ride at one of the amusement parks.
Maryam al Balushi, a parent of three children in the age group 4-10, said while parents are fully responsible for the safety of children, operators of recreational centres should ensure that the places and equipment are well-maintained and employees fully-trained to handle any type of mechanical failures or emergencies.
“It will be unfair to generalise a situation after one or two incidents on the overall safety standards, but no excuses can be accepted in case of a single death or injury,” she said.
The nature of recreational centres has changed over the years. While accidents are exceptional, parents and operators cannot take technology for granted.
“Mechanical issues such as malfunctioning, inexperience of the operators, and customers not giving heed to safety guidelines seriously are major causes for an accident,” an official associated with a recreational service told the Observer.
Neha Joshi, a parent, agreed with the claims that visitors do not follow safety guidelines seriously. They leave the entire responsibility on the shoulders of the operators.
“I have seen parents arguing with managers when a child is denied entry due to his age or physique. We may think that there is not much difference between ages 4 and 5 or ages 12 and 14, but they do make a difference on various counts — mental development, bone development, the overall stability of the body and the ability to interpret instructions among others,” she said.
Dangers posed by the modern-day indoor activities such as ice rings, skiing, rock climbing and trampoline jumps are enormous, which could lead to lifelong disabilities, if not death.
Trampoline activities can result in sprains and fractures in the arms or legs, as well as potentially serious head and neck injuries.
“As trampolines are generally connected with steel cables or chains links, waves of energy are generated in all directions when people jump, which can cause double bounces that can end in serious collisions,” point out experts.
Bounce Oman says on its website that its hosts are trained in Controlled Pressure Respiration (CRP) and First Aid. “Our staff enforces our ‘one person per trampoline’ rule to avoid collisions. Children under 110cm tall (which is generally those aged 6 years and under) have dedicated times and access areas. Our Junior Jumper areas are restricted to jumpers shorter 110 cm, which keeps these young jumpers separate from larger children or adults.”
“Trampo Extreme Activities at Trampo are active nature and thus may have varying elements of risk. It is our responsibility to take every practicable step to minimise this risk for customers and staff. We do not encourage customers to try activities that are beyond their ability or engage in activities where a condition they currently are aware of may be adversely affected by the activity.”
Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA) has been urging parents that all outdoor and indoor activities should be only under their supervision and with their knowledge.