Playground Safety Tips

SAFETY GUIDELINES:

Adult Supervision

  • Adult Supervision is a MUST. Young children are not always able to measure distances and have difficulty foreseeing dangerous situations.
  • Playground Design SafetyThe most important factors in evaluating the safety of any playground are proper surface, design and spacing, and equipment inspection and maintenance.
  • SurfacesOne of the most common ways a child is injured on a playground is when they fall. A proper playground surface is one of the most important factors in reducing injuries – and the severity of injuries – that occur when kids fall from equipment. Keep in mind that even proper surfacing can’t prevent all injuries.

Here are some things to consider:

  • The surface under the playground equipment should be soft enough and thick enough to soften the impact of a child’s fall.
  • Concrete, asphalt, and blacktop are unsafe and unacceptable. Grass, soil, and packed-earth surfaces are also unsafe, especially in Chicago where weather effects may reduce their capacities to cushion a child’s fall.
  • Look for possible dangers on the ground such as rocks, broken glass, standing water that could cause kids to slip and fall.
  • The cushioned surface should extend at least 6 feet past the equipment.
  • Safe surfaces include mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials. They may also be filled loosely with material like wood chips, mulch, or pea gravel.
  • No surfacing materials are considered safe if the combined height of playground and the child (standing on the highest platform) is higher than 12 feet.

Design and Spacing and Inspection

Playground equipment should be designed for three different age groups: infants and toddlers under 2, 2- to 5-year-olds (preschoolers), and 5- to 12-year-olds (school-age kids).

In the safest playgrounds, play areas for younger children are separated from those meant for older kids and signs clearly designate each area to prevent confusion.

Guidelines to ensure that equipment is designed, spaced and maintained to be safe:

  • Guardrails and protective barriers should be in place for elevated surfaces, including platforms and ramps.
  • Swings should be limited to two per bay and be spaced at least 2 feet apart.
  • Be sure there are no spaces that could trap a child’s head, arm, or any other body part. All openings on equipment (for example, rungs on a ladder or bars on a guardrail) should measure less than 3½ inches or they should be wider than 9 inches.
  • Check equipment with moving parts. They should be checked for pinch points that could pinch or crush a child’s finger or hand.
  • Check for objects (like hardware, S-shaped hooks, bolts, and sharp or unfinished edges) that stick out on equipment and could cut a child or cause clothing to become entangled.
  • All hardware on equipment should be secure, with no loose or broken parts. There should not be any splintered or rusted surfaces.
  • If the playground has a sandbox, check for objects such as sharp sticks or broken glass, and be sure that the sand is free of bugs. Sandboxes should be covered overnight to prevent contamination from animals.
  • Check for objects (like hooks, bolts, and sharp or unfinished edges) that stick out on equipment and could cut a child or cause clothing to become entangled.
  • Check to make sure that metal equipment is not too hot for the child, especially in the summertime.

For more information, please visit KidsHealth.