Mom's frightening photo of daughter's injury highlights hidden playground danger

Heather Clare figured there was no harm in putting her 1-year-old daughter in her lap and taking her down a slide during a family outing at a local park.

Clare learned a hard lesson she is now passing on to other parents when her daughter Meadow's right foot caught the side of the slide, snapping her tibia and fibia.

The mother of three has posted a photo of the alarming moment on Facebook to alert parents to the potential danger of riding with a child down a slide.

(Warning: Some may find this image disturbing).

"I see parents riding down slides all the time with their kids,'' Clare said on TODAY Wednesday. "I don't think anybody - most parents aren't aware of this. Everybody really is shocked that that's a possibility and that that could happen."

Meadow is now 3 and has made a full recovery since that frightening day at Heckscher Park in Huntington, New York, in 2015. She spent four weeks in a pink cast following the injury.

Clare, 35, had taken Meadow's twin brother, Matthew, down the slide first that day before putting Meadow in her lap for a ride. Meadow started in the center of her mother's lap before sliding over and getting her foot caught.

"When I got to the bottom of the slide she was screaming,'' Clare said.

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Clare learned from a doctor in the emergency room that Meadow's injury was much more common than she thought.

From 2002-15, there were 350,000 children under the age of five who were injured on slides, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than a third of those injuries were lower leg fractures like the one suffered by Meadow.

"In the emergency room I see these injuries all the time, and the parents feel very very guilty and a lot of times they're crying, they're really upset about what happened to the child,'' NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres said on TODAY. "And what I typically tell them is if you think back to your own childhood, how any of us got to this point of being adults is way beyond me because we all get injured in childhood. We tend to recover from those."

Some experts advise to tuck the child's legs between yours when going down a slide, but Clare believes there's no safe way for a child to ride in his or her parent's lap.

"The safest way for a child to go down a slide with their parent is not in the parent's lap,'' Torres said. "Instead, the parent wants to stand next to the slide, hold the child on there about halfway up, and let the child go down while you're guarding them."

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Clare advocates in her Facebook post for warning signs at playgrounds telling parents not to ride down slides with their children.

"If I can take what happened to Meadow and take the pain that she felt and the guilt that I felt, and we can use that as an impetus to create change, that's what's the most important thing to me,'' Clare said.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.