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Ball Pits & Indoor Play Areas Might Not Be as Clean as You Think

Throw, shoot, dive! Ball pits and indoor play areas might be a haven for our kids, especially now that the smog days are coming back again. But these seemingly safe places have more little fellows lurking somewhere: germs and other microbes. What’s more, toys and balls in these indoor centers are not always sanitized, hence the higher risk of spreading infection.

In a recent report from state broadcaster CCTV quoted by Urban Family website, a staff member of one indoor kids’ play zone in Kunming, Yunnan said they sterilize toys and other facilities only once a day, while balls in the pit are disinfected once every few days. One parent from Beijing said in the report that her son got wounded after hitting a sharp hairpin, hidden among the balls.

“This is very dangerous as kids jump around in them all the time. Who knows what else would happen to them?” said the parent identified as Miss Gu in the report.

Recent studies show that indoor play areas are “potential reservoirs” of infection such as hand-foot-and-mouth disease, while half of the toys and other equipment in these areas are contaminated by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

“While swinging on monkey bars, coasting down slides, and enjoying other recreational equipment, children are exposed to the urine, blood, saliva, sweat, and mucus of others who’ve used the equipment before them,” said AAA State of Play, a US-based playground distributor. “These facts make playground equipment twice as big of a biohazard as public restrooms,” it added.

While it’s true that these illness-inducing microbes are ubiquitous, what parents can do is to lessen the risk and exposure of their kids by taking simple precautions, such as washing hands.

Click infographic to enlarge.

More tips to reduce the risk of infection in playgrounds:

– Tell kids to keep their hands and mouth off their face, especially when in public playgrounds.
– If your kid is not feeling well or already ill, advise them against playing outdoors or with other kids.
– Instruct kids to use their own supplies and to avoid wearing others’ clothes.
– Teach kids to be careful roaming or playing in areas deemed to have a high concentration of germs, and to avoid touching sources of infection such as water fountains and cafeteria trays.
(Source: AAA State of Play)

Photos:; Urban Family; via Pinterest