Monitoring Playground Safety
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 children go to hospital emergency rooms with injuries that happened on playground equipment, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). To help prevent injuries, you must monitor your child to make sure he/she follows playground rules; but, you must also monitor the equipment to improve playground safety. Here are a few tips from the CPSC’s Public Playground Safety Checklist (PDF):
- Playground Surfaces
Make sure safe surfaces (wood chips, mulch, sand, or mats) around playground equipment are at least 12 inches deep and extend at least 6 feet in all directions.
- Structure Spacing
Play structures that are more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least 9 feet apart. There should be no openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs that are less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches apart.
- Dangerous Hardware
Check for open “S” hooks, protruding bolt ends, or sharp points or edges on equipment.
- Tripping Hazards
Look out for exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
- Falling Hazards
Be sure that platforms, steps, and ramps have guardrails to prevent falls.
For your child’s safety, always be sure children are supervised, no matter how safe the playground seems. However, watching out for your child’s safety on the playground isn’t enough. You must also watch out for playground safety. Accidents can happen no matter how watchful you might be, but prevention and preparedness do pay off in safer playgrounds and fewer problems.
- Public Playground Safety Checklist (PDF) from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides a 10-point checklist for playground safety.
- Playground Safety from KidsHealth provides tips for monitoring your child on the playground and ensuring that playgrounds are safe—from surfaces to equipment.
- How Safe Is Your Playground? from Parenthood provides very simple playground safety tips.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.
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