A playground, whether at school or a public park, should be a safe place to play and have fun with friends. Unfortunately, every year more than 200,000 kids are treated in emergency rooms for playground related injuries. Playground injuries may involve falls on hard surfaces, head entrapment, and strangulation by entanglement. Other accidents are caused by equipment or facility design defects or poor maintenance.
The U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission offers the following guidelines to make your child’s playground fun and safe:
- Surfaces around playground equipment should have at least 12 inches of soft materials, preferably rubber chips, that extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment (for swings, surfacing materials should extend in back and front twice the height of the suspending bar).
- Play structures more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least 9 feet apart.
- Spaces that could entrap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
- There should be no sharp points or edges on equipment.
- There should be no tripping hazards, such as exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
- Elevated surfaces, such as platforms and ramps, should have guardrails to prevent falls.
- Equipment should be anchored safely in the ground.
- All equipment pieces should be in good working order, with S-hooks entirely closed, bolts not protruding, and no exposed footings.
- Equipment should be free of rust, splinters, and missing parts.
- Ropes used as part of playground equipment should be secured on both ends.
Prevention is the key to keeping children safe. If you see something dangerous or suspicious, notify your local law enforcement right away.
Parents and caregivers need to be proactive, become familiar with where their children play, and see that children are properly supervised. By eliminating hidden dangers, you can make your child’s playground a safe, fun place to play.