Playgrounds are safe places for exploration and play. These 8 steps can keep children safe:
1. Always supervise children when they play.
Adult supervision is essential to playground safety and requires more than just being present. Positive supervision involves paying attention to hazardous situations, supporting and guiding play, responding to emergencies, and managing a healthy play environment.
2. Remove Potential Entanglement Hazards
Most playground-related deaths are the result of strangulation, remove bike helmets and strings from children’s clothing. Also, ensure equipment is secured at both ends to prevent entanglement.
3. Check the temperature of equipment and surfacing material.
Check for hot surfaces on playground equipment and fall surfacing before allowing children to play. If shade structures do not protect from the sun, the surface can become extremely hot and can even cause burns on the skin.
4. Children should go down slides on their own.
Many playground injuries, especially fractures, are caused when an adult holds a child on their lap. We recommend adults never hold children on one's lap when going down the slide.
5. Children should only play on equipment that has proper surfacing material installed under and around the equipment.
Nearly 70 percent of all playground injuries are related to children falling. Acceptable surfaces are either loose-fill or unitary. Loose fill surfacing materials include certified wood products, shredded rubber, sand, and pea gravel. Unitary surfaces include poured-in-place rubber, rubber mats or rubber tiles. Playground equipment should never be installed over concrete, asphalt, grass, blacktop, or packed dirt, as they do not provide cushion to protect a child.
6. Ensure the equipment is safe.
Make sure playground equipment is in good working order — anchored safely in the ground, closed S-hooks, flush bolts, hidden footings, and free of rust, splinters, and missing parts.
7. Children play on age appropriate equipment.
Equipment should be be designed and separated for children ages 6 -23 months; 2-5 years of age, and 5-12 years of age.
8. Limit sun exposure.
Weather that poses a significant health risk includes temperatures ranging from a wind-chill factor at or below -15˚F and heat index at or above 90˚F, as identified by the National Weather Service. Use sunscreen (even on cloudy days) and wear UVA and UVB protective clothing and sunglasses.
9. Remove Animal Swings from Playgrounds
In 1995, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled heavy molded animal swings.
Hanway, S. (2016). Injuries and Investigated Deaths Associated with Playground Equipment, 2009-2014. Consumer Product Safety Commission.