Each year more than 200,000 American children are treated in emergency rooms for playground injuries-the number of injured children who are not seen in hospital EDs is far greater. About 80% of all playground injuries result from falls to the playground surface. Inadequate adult supervision and age inappropriateness are contributing factors in the majority of playground injuries. For example, preschoolers playing on equipment designed for older kids may be at increased risk of injury because of the height of equipment and the spacing of steps and railings; additionally, most young children lack the coordination necessary to use equipment like climbers and monkey bars, which are intended for older children. About 3/4 of playground injuries requiring emergency treatment occur on public playgrounds, where climbers are responsible for the majority of injuries. The remaining 1/4 of playground injuries occur on home playgrounds, where swings are responsible for the greatest number of injuries.
Ensuring adequate adult supervision and keeping equipment and surfacing well maintained are keys to preventing playground injuries. To keep kids safe on playgrounds at home, schools or public parks:
- use surfaces like shredded rubber, wood chips, wood fiber, or sand that reduce injuries related to falls; surfacing should be laid at a depth of at least 12″ and a minimum of 6′ in all directions from the perimeter of the equipment
- inspect loose-fill surfaces, like wood chips, that can be moved around during normal play and need to be pushed back into place regularly to ensure adequate cushioning
- play equipment should not contain any spaces between 3 1/2″ and 9″ wide, where heads or body parts could be trapped
- playground equipment should sit on a level surface and be firmly anchored to the ground
- install equipment at least 6′ from fences or walls
- cap all screws and bolts
- check equipment at regular intervals for loose nuts and bolts and broken, rusty or sharp parts
- check for hot metal surfaces on equipment, like slides, which could cause burns
- regularly inspect play areas for hazards such as broken glass or metal pieces on the ground
- children should not walk in front of moving swings
Adapted from Information prepared by the Rainbow Community Safety & Resource Center, Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital
Source: Playground Safety – Kid’s Health.org
For more information:
Go to the Children’s Health health topic.