Your playground safety questions answered!
In an effort to reduce injury and spread awareness, Kids In Danger has compiled some of the most common questions we get about playground use and asked Amy Hill, Project Manager at the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, for an expert’s answers.
Question: Is the playground surface safe if a kid falls on it?
Answer: The most important component of reducing playground injuries is adequate safety surfacing. 58% of all playground injuries are the result of falls to the surface. The type of surface on the playground is the most important factor in the number and severity of these injuries. There should be 12 inches of wood chips, sand, or pea gravel, or appropriate rubber tire, unitary rubber or artificial turf surfacing under play equipment. Hard surfaces such as asphalt, concrete, grass, packed dirt, or rocks should never be used as playground surfacing. Falls from one foot onto concrete can cause a concussion. Falls from eight feet onto dirt is the same as a child hitting a brick wall traveling 30 miles per hour.
Question: What clothes can create risks at a playground?
Answer: When kids are playing on a playground they should avoid wearing anything, such as jewelry, cords or drawstrings, around their necks as it can be caught on the playground equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. It’s great for kids to wear their helmets when they ride their bicycles to the playground but helmets must be removed before playing. The helmets can increase the risk of potential head entrapment hazards on playground equipment. Helmet straps can also pose an unintended strangulation hazard.
Question: How do I know what equipment is age appropriate?
Answer: Kids of different ages are developmentally different so equipment designed for ages 5-12 is too big for kids ages 2-5. Playgrounds should have a sign designating the age appropriateness of the equipment. If no sign is posted, then follow this simple rule: if a child is not able to play without help, then they are too young for that equipment. Ideally, playgrounds should have separate play areas for children ages 2-5 and 5-12 to make it clear what equipment is for what age range of children.
Question: How carefully should I supervise my kid at a playground?
Answer: Most injuries at a playground cannot be avoided simply because of supervision, but keeping an eye on your child at the playground is always a good idea. Many adults think that they can send children to the playground and it will supervise them. Not true!
If you have any concerns about the safety of your playground equipment, contact SaferProducts.gov and/or local officials