Do you ever wonder how safe the playgrounds your children play on are? Over the past couple decades, schools and communities have been working to make playgrounds as safe as possible, replacing metal with plastic and taking necessary precautions to make sure kids are safe. Unfortunately, not all playgrounds have been updated to the same standards. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that emergency departments still see more than 20,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related traumatic brain injury each year.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has come up with playground hazards you should watch out for when taking your kids to the park.
- Improper protective surfaces: Fall surfaces should be made of wood chips, mulch, wood fibers, sand, shredded tires or rubber mats.
- 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: Beware of hardware that is capable of impaling or cutting a child (bolts, hooks, rungs, etc.) or catching strings or items of clothing. Children should never wear drawstring hoodies or bike helmets at the playground.
- Head entrapment hazards: There should be no openings that measure between 3 ½ and 9 inches.
- Overcrowded play area: Swings should be set towards the outside of the playground to minimize risk of an accidental collision.
- Trip hazards, like rocks or tree stumps should be removed.
- Lack of supervision: Clear sight lines and adequate supervision reduces accidents.
- Age inappropriate activities: CPSC makes recommendations for age appropriate equipment. They do not recommend free standing arch climbers, log rolls, fulcrum seesaws for children younger than 2.5 years old, to name a few.
- Lack of maintenance: Check for splintering equipment or loose bolts.
- Sharp edges on equipment should be replaced immediately.
- Platforms with no guardrails
- Equipment not recommended for public playgrounds: Heavy swings and free swinging ropes to name a couple.
If your playground is unsafe, report the problem to the owner or park district. And remember, there is no substitute for parental supervision. If you have any other questions regarding playground safety, contact us here and one of our playground contractors can answer any questions you may have.