Playgrounds can be a great place for children to interact with friends and develop strength and coordination. Unfortunately, they are also a common source of injuries. Over 200,000 children in the US are treated in emergency rooms each year for playground-related injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented. Learning the facts about playground injuries and safety can help keep your children safe.
Check the Equipment
Many playground injuries result from poorly maintained equipment or equipment that does not meet current safety standards.
Falls are the most common cause of playground injuries, and experts recommend that all playgrounds have an impact-absorbing surface made of rubber or a similar material. The surface should extend at least six feet beyond the equipment for optimal safety. Neither concrete nor unfinished grass or dirt surfaces are considered safe. And improper surface can greatly increase the severity of injury in the event of a fall.
Check the playground equipment before you allow your children to play on it.
- Keep an eye out for loose bolts, rust, or other signs of wear and tear.
- Make sure that the play equipment is sturdy and secure.
- Check that the surface and equipment are free of litter or debris, such as cans or broken glass.
A well-designed playground should have plenty of space between different equipment pieces.
- Guard rails should be in place on higher equipment pieces to prevent falls.
- There should not be spaces where a child’s head or limbs could become trapped.
- Equipment for toddlers and smaller children should be separated from equipment for older children.
Children should always be supervised by an adult when using playground equipment. Lack of supervision is associated with 40% of all playground injuries. Children are most often unsupervised on school playgrounds as opposed to home playgrounds, childcare center playgrounds, or playgrounds in public parks.
Always supervise your children on the playground. If they will be using playground equipment while at school or daycare, inquire about their policies to make sure your children will be adequately supervised to avoid playground injuries.
Know Your Children
Be aware of your child’s age and abilities. Many types of playground equipment are not appropriate for children younger than 5 or 6 years old. Toddlers and young children may not have the strength or size to use regular playground equipment and should stick to equipment designed for smaller children.
Regardless of your child’s age, you know them best. Make sure that they are only using playground equipment that is appropriate for their age, size, and strength level.
Teach Playground Safety
Even with supervision, children can be injured if they don’t know and follow proper playground safety rules. Teach them how to play safely.
- Never push or roughhouse on the playground equipment.
- Use equipment as intended (slide feet first, don’t climb outside of guardrails, etc.)
- Be aware of other children on the playground. Always check that the area is clear before sliding or jumping off of equipment.
- Take off bike helmets and necklaces. Don’t wear clothes with loose drawstrings or cords.
Other Important Facts
Approximately 15 children die each year from playground injuries. Most of these deaths are caused by strangulation. Pay special attention to any playground equipment that could trap a child’s head or neck. Do not allow them to wear any clothing or accessories that could become tangled in the equipment.
Girls are at slightly higher risk than boys of sustaining playground injuries.
Children ages 5-9 account for the majority of all playground injuries, likely because they are the most frequent users of playground equipment.