After her 20-month-old son Elijah broke his leg on a slide at North Lakes Park, a Denton mom wants to warn other parents about the dangers of sliding down slides with children.
“We went down the first time without a problem and then going down the second time, I had had his legs crossed with me and he flipped his leg out,” 30-year-old Amanda Calvery said this week. “It got caught on the edge of the slide, and when it did, it broke his tibia in half.”
Elijah is now in an orthopedic boot for four more weeks, following a month spent in a cast.
“I just want parents to be more careful,” Calvery said. “I’m not doing this for attention or anything. I just want children to be safe on slides and bring slide safety to awareness. Because it can happen in a split second.”
Between 2002 and 2015, there was an estimated 352,698 emergency room visits by kids 5 and under who were injured on slides, according to a 2018 study on playground slide-related injuries, published in the Injury Epidemiology Journal.
“When it did happen ... I immediately knew it was [broken] because I heard the snap and I saw it happen,” Calvery said. “It was traumatizing and I do not want another parent to go through what we went through.”
The National Program for Playground Safety recommends that children go down slides on their own, never in an adult’s lap, to prevent injury.
“It’s a very traumatizing experience because as his mother, he was in my lap and I beat myself up over it because, you know, ‘Could I have been more careful, could I have prevented it?’” Calvery said. “I don’t want a parent to go through this situation at all.”
Calvery said she thinks the city should do more to educate parents about slide safety.
“I think that they should at least put a sign or something in front of the slides that says toddlers don’t need to go down with their parents,’’ she said. “Something like that, like ‘Do not slide down with children.’ Because it’s not just [that] it can happen to toddlers, it can probably happen to any other child [at any] age, if they go down with their parents.”
The green slide where the accident happened is in a playground area designated for older kids.
In an email, Denton Parks and Recreation Director Gary Packan said officials are “reviewing all playground locations to reaffirm adequate signage is in place and in a location in which typical traffic patterns occur.”
“Any opportunity to enhance signage and education with the use of equipment will be considered,” Packan said. “Parks and Recreation will continue efforts to ensure effective signage on playgrounds and as well as our efforts to replace older play structures with newer equipment. In addition, the department will also be working to add education material on park safety in future public service announcements.”
Children can get injured when going down slides with adults if their foot catches the edge as they slide down, which can twist it and pull it backwards.
“The much greater weight of an adult driving the downward momentum on the slide can create significant forces on the child’s lower extremity and result in a fracture, usually to the tibia,” the 2018 study says in its discussion section. “On the other hand, if a child goes down a slide by themselves, they are not likely to get a severe leg injury even if their foot catches due [to] their relatively small size and weight.”
Calvery said Elijah’s doctors are hoping his leg heals by July 4, allowing the orthopedic boot to come off.
“It doesn’t slow him down but he doesn’t like it,” she said.