Public park safety – common risks and how to avoid them

Public parks and gardens are places where adults and children alike go to relax, exercise, enjoy nature, and have fun. These natural areas are extremely important for the local community as they provide a place for people to meet and engage in outdoor activities that boost mental and physical health. But how safe are these places, really?

While the majority of people consider public parks to be very safe, the unfortunate truth is they’re not free from risks and hazards. A simple walk in the park or a picnic with friends can bring unpleasant surprises for visitors. This doesn’t mean we should stop going to the park because there’s a slight chance that something bad might happen to us, far from it. There are plenty of science-backed benefits of spending time in nature, so there’s no denying that going to the park can be good for you.

However, it would be a lot better, and safer, if you were aware of the potential hazards in these public spaces, so you can learn to prevent them and keep accidents or injuries at bay. So, here are the most common health and safety risks in public spaces and what you can do to avoid them.

Sports accidents

For a lot of people going to the park is part of their fitness routine. Those who dread the gym and don’t enjoy exercising in confined spaces make use of the great outdoors to do their regular workouts. Given that training in parks often helps you save time, allows you to enjoy the benefits of sunshine, helps improve mood, and is free of charge and available at any time, it’s understandable why one would ditch the traditional gym for a natural workout environment.

But outdoor training also gives way to all sorts of sports injuries. While most of these injuries are just minor scrapes, sprains, or strains, sometimes sports accidents can lead to more serious health issues. The best way to minimise these types of accidents is by carefully inspecting the grounds before engaging in any sort of physical activity and making sure you’re properly equipped for a training session.

Another unpleasant consequence of working out outdoors is suffering from heat-related issues, such as dehydration, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke Sure, it’s nice to feel the sun on your skin while you’re exercising, but keep in mind that the sun can be both a friend and an enemy. Check the weather report and if the temperatures are too high for thermal comfort, you might want to skip the workout altogether. Also, while you’re training in the park, don’t forget to bring a water bottle with you to stay hydrated.

Poorly maintained walking trails
Not all visitors go to the park to work out or play sports. Some simply want to explore the trails so they can enjoy the natural scenery and get a breath of fresh air. You’d think that there’s nothing risky in taking a short walk in the park. but injuries can occur even in these situations, given that certain categories of people such as children, the elderly or those not physically fit are more vulnerable and any obstacle they come across may spell trouble for them.

Cracks, pits, and uneven surfaces can lead to slips, trips, and falls. Therefore, a lot of people get injured in parks due to poorly maintained walking trails. These types of accidents are a common issue in all parks, which is why so many people make personal injury claims against the local council. Local authorities are responsible for maintaining all public areas in proper condition, so it’s their job to fix these problems. But it wouldn’t hurt to be vigilant and practice caution when walking in the park.

Weather-related accidents
Mother nature can often surprise us and not always in a pleasant way. Sever whether can strike when you least expect it, and if you happen to be in the park when a thunderstorm breaks loose, you might have more to worry about than getting your hair wet.

If you take a look at statistics, you’ll find out that there are around 240,000 lighting incidents happening every year worldwide, and the number of fatalities reaches approximately 2000 people annually. These figures deliver a sobering reminder of how much damage natural disasters can cause. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should run for cover at every chance of rain, especially in the UK where every day is a rainy day. However, with the increased frequency of extreme weather events, it would be best to keep an eye out for alerts and refrain from taking your usual walks when there’s bad weather ahead.

Unsafe equipment
Some parks provide training equipment or changing rooms and bathrooms for fitness enthusiasts, which obviously increases the appeal of exercising outdoors. Given that a large number of people use these facilities on a daily basis, they can easily get damaged, and we all know that faulty equipment and accidents go hand in hand.

Again, is the council’s responsibility to make sure all this equipment is in proper functioning condition. But even with regular checks and maintenance, there are still issues that might escape their attention. So, it’s best to check them yourself if you want to stay safe.

Tree accidents
Waling trails, sports equipment, and facilities are not the only things that require maintenance in a public park. Nature itself should be tended to in order to avoid accidents caused by falling trees or branches. That’s why natural areas should be inspected and groomed by professionals on a regular basis.

If you happen to walk past a tree that might pose a potential hazard to visitors, make sure you alert the local authorities so they can address the issue before anything bad happens. Prevention is key in ensuring safety, in public parks and all other areas, and we all have to play our part to avoid common dangers.

*Collaborative post