It’s a mother’s worst nightmare – a tragic accident befalls your child. Every year, about 50,000 children go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms because of injuries on home playground equipment. About 80% of the injuries occur when children fall from play equipment. Children are also injured when they are hit by swings or other moving equipment or are cut from sharp edges and protruding bolts on play structures.
And each year several children die on home playgrounds, primarily as a result of entanglement or strangulation from ropes, cords, or leashes attached to play equipment, or when clothing drawstrings and items worn around children’s necks catch on the equipment. Others die when their heads or necks are trapped in narrow spaces, they fall from the equipment, or when they are struck by play equipment that moves or tips over.
To avoid such tragedies, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has developed the following check list for families planning a home playground:
OUTDOOR HOME PLAYGROUND SAFETY CHECKLIST
- Supervision Be sure to always supervise children on play equipment.
- Surfacing Install a protective surface under and around play equipment to reduce the likelihood of serious head injuries.
- Types of Surfacing Carpeting and thin mats are not adequate as protective surfacing. Maintain at least 9 inches of loose-fill material or use an ASTM F1292 rated material at the depth required for the equipment height.
- Equipment Maintenance Periodically check nuts, bolts, caps, swing seats, suspension ropes, chains, and cables and replace as necessary. Maintain loose-fill surfacing and surface mats.
- Opening Eliminate openings that can trap a child’s head or neck, such as openings in guardrails or ladders. Openings should be smaller than 3½ inches to prevent entry of a small child’s body, or larger than 9 inches to allow a child’s head and body to slide completely through.
- Ropes Never attach jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes, or cords of any kind to play equipment. Anchor any climbing ropes at both ends. Remove drawstrings from children’s clothes. Children can strangle on these.
- Anchors Bury or cover anchors with adequate surfacing material to prevent tripping. Play equipment should not tip over.
- Guardrails or Barriers Make sure that platforms and ramps over 30 inches high have guardrails or barriers to prevent falls.
- Repair Repair sharp points or edges on equipment that can cause injuries.
- Upkeep of Hardware Replace missing hardware, eliminate protruding bolts, and close “S” hooks that can cause injuries.
For more information from CPSC on playground safety, visit Playground Safety Publications.