How Safe Is Your Child’s Playground?


Thousands of children are treated for injuries related to playground equipment each year. The numbers are alarming and parents should pay attention.

Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) show the following results for kids 3-16 years in the U.S in 2011:

• Approximately 104,157 were treated for injuries from swing sets
• More than 8,800 from seesaws or teeterboards
• Approximately 80,668 from slides and sliding boards.
“In addition to falls and other types of injuries, a playground’s surface, design and maintenance also are major factors contributing to mishaps on the playground,” says orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Dr. John Gaffney, DO. “For example, knowing what types of playground surfaces to avoid, or being aware of potential injuries that happen from common practices like going down the slide with a child in your lap are great places to start.”

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends the following safety tips:

Tips for Parents:
• Avoid playgrounds that have concrete, asphalt, hard-packed dirt, or grass. Recommended surfaces include shock-absorbing unitary materials like rubber mats or loose fill such as double-shredded bark mulch, engineered wood fibers, sand, and fine or medium gravel of suitable depth.
• Steer children to age-appropriate playground equipment.
• Check to see that there is enough space for kids to easily get off the slide or merry-go-round. Don’t let children crowd exit areas.
• Try the handgrips on monkey bars and other climbing devices to verify they are shaped and sized for easy grasp.
• Swing seats should be made of plastic or rubber. Avoid metal or wood.
• Avoid any equipment that has openings that could entrap a child’s head.
• Be sure you can clearly see your children on the playground.

Tips for kids: 
• Play on dry equipment.
• Hold on to handrails and climb all stairs or steps slowly.
• Slide one person at a time, sitting down and facing forward, and move away from the slide as soon as they reach the ground.
• Be careful crossing in front of moving swings or teeter-totters.
• Remove drawstrings and hoods from clothing that could catch on equipment.
• Use care in the sun. In hot weather, equipment exposed to direct sunlight can burn skin.
• Wear proper footwear — no bare feet.