During the summer, the playground can be a parent’s best friend,
with lots of activities to keep children entertained. Unfortunately, not
all playgrounds are a safe place to spend the afternoon.
Every year, more than 200,000 children suffer playground injuries that
require a trip to the emergency room. As
discussed by the National Safety Council, playground injuries are most commonly caused by falls, and the equipment
most frequently linked to injuries includes climbers, swings, slides and
While many injuries are simply attributable to “youthful exuberance,”
others are preventable. Common causes of playground accidents include
defective playground equipment, poorly designed play areas and improper
maintenance. According to the National Recreation and Park Association
and the National Playground Safety Institute, below are the most common
•Improper protective surfacing: Fall surfaces should be made of wood chips, mulch, wood fibers, sand,
pea gravel, shredded tires or rubber mats and should be at least 12 inches deep.
•Inadequate use zone: The area under and around play equipment where a child might fall should
be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions.
•Protrusion hazards and sharp edges: Beware of hardware that is capable of impaling or cutting a child (bolts,
hooks, rungs, etc.)
•Head entrapment hazards: There should be no openings that measure between 3 ½ and 9 inches.
•Overcrowded play area: Swings should be set far enough away from other equipment so children
won't be hit by a moving swing.
•Lack of maintenance: Metal or wooden swing seats should be replaced with soft seats, and equipment
should not be split or splintered.
•Unsafe equipment: Some playground equipment is just inherently unsafe. For instance, number
of injuries caused by monkey bars is so significant many experts recommend
they be removed from all playgrounds. Platforms with no guardrails also
pose fall risks.
In addition to keeping an eye out for the hazards above, parents should
also check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are
in good condition and report any defects to the proper officials. Of course,
it’s also important to carefully supervise children on playgrounds
to help keep them safe.