When school’s out and the sun is out, families across the country are headed to their local park or playground. Playground equipment are just one of many types of children’s products that can pose hidden hazards. Read more below about the different aspects of playground safety, the work that is being done to improve playground safety, and what to look out for on your next trip to the playground.
Age-appropriate equipment. It’s important that kids of different age groups have their own play areas. There should be separate equipment for infants 6-23 months old, toddlers 2-5 years old, and children 6-12 years old. This prevents injuries from accidental bumps and equipment designed for children of different ages. Also, note that it is unsafe to take young children on your lap down slides.
Fall surface. The playground surface shouldn’t be hard or rocky. Avoid playgrounds that use asphalt or concrete, as they provide little protection in the event of a fall. Soft fill materials such as rubber or wood chips, or a solid soft rubber surface are safer options. It should have a layer at least 12 inches thick.
Equipment Maintenance.When you arrive at the playground, quickly examine the equipment to ensure it’s in good repair. There should be no rust, splinters or cracks in the equipment. Ropes that are not secured at both ends are dangerous, as they can cause strangulation.
Clothing. Children should wear close-toed shoes to protect their feet and take off bike helmets prior to playing. They can cause strangulation.
Playground equipment is also occasionally recalled due to a variety of hazards, including these metal slides, which were recalled due to a risk of amputation. According to a recent KID report, over 200,000 children are treated for playground-related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms each year. Unfortunately, those numbers have remained relatively stable since 2014. KID will continue to work to strengthen standards and draw attention to common hazards to reduce these numbers.
To read more about the National Program for Playground Safety’s S.A.F.E. checklist, click here. Check CPSC.gov for playground product recalls. If you experience an incident with unsafe playground equipment, report it to SaferProducts.gov. For more important safety information, sign up for KID’s email alerts and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.