More than 200,000 children are treated in the emergency room each year after being injured on the playground, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of those injuries – 45 percent – are considered severe: fractures, concussions, dislocations, amputations and internal injuries. Even worse, about 15 children each year die as a result of playground injuries in the U.S.
Slide risks and other equipment hazards
According to the National Program for Playground Safety, playground injuries most frequently involve the following types of equipment:
- Climbers (23 percent)
- Swings (22 percent)
- Slides (17 percent)
- Overhead ladders (9 percent)
Many slide injuries occur when adults carrying small children down a slide on their laps, often in an attempt to keep them safe. Though well intentioned, this can actually put children at a greater risk of leg fractures, which may occur if the child’s shoe’s become stuck on the slide. While a child riding alone will typically come to a stop if his or her shoes catch on the slide, the added weight of an adult will keep the child moving, potentially resulting in a broken leg.
Playground surface material
When it comes to child safety and injury prevention, not all playgrounds are created equal. One important variable, which Safe Kids USA describes as "the most critical safety factor on playgrounds," is the surface material of the playground itself. Falls account for more than 3 out of 4 playground injuries, and the surface material can make a dramatic difference in the likelihood of serious injury when a child falls.
Children who fall onto hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt are far more likely to suffer serious injuries than those who fall onto protective, impact-absorbing surfaces like sand, chipped rubber, gravel or wood chips. According to a survey cited by Safe Kids USA, only 25 percent of public playgrounds have proper protective surfacing.
Traumatic brain injuries
Among children age four and younger, playground injuries were the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, according to Safe Kids USA. Traumatic brain injuries, which occur when normal brain functions are disrupted by sudden jolt or blow to the head, have been linked to long-term physical and cognitive problems like memory loss, difficulty concentrating, headaches and dizziness – even in children whose initial injuries seemed relatively minor.
Nearly half of all playground injuries occur as a result of improper supervision, according to the National Playground Safety Institute. Young children in particular must be actively supervised at all times on the playground, since they are typically more vulnerable to injury and less equipped to look out for their own safety than older children and adults. The most common places that children play without adequate supervision are school playgrounds, public parks and daycare centers.
Legal help for playground injuries
If your child has been hurt in a playground injury, you may be able to receive compensation for your child’s injuries, medical and rehabilitative care, and other expenses relating to the injury. Contact a knowledgeable child injury lawyer in your area for more information.