playground safety

It’s that time of year again when the sound of children running around in playgrounds across our neighborhoods fills the air. It’s also a time for heighted precautions because as fun as a playground can be, it’s also a place where kids can get seriously injured.

More than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger are treated each year for playground-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of these children, more than 20,000 are treated for a traumatic brain injury (TBI), including concussion. Additionally, about 56% of playground-related injuries are fractures and contusions/abrasions, and about 75% of injuries are related to playground equipment.

The top playground equipment where these injuries occur, according to a recent study by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which looked at emergency-treated injuries between 2009 and 2014, include: seesaw/teeter totters, swings, slides, and composite play structures. Take a look at the CPSC’s recent study for additional insights from their findings.

Other exposures on the playground to be aware of include the risks inherent with rising temperatures during summer time. Playground slides have been recorded to reach temperatures exceeding 160 degrees, which is hot enough to cause first, second, and sometimes even three-degree burns, for users. For example, an 18-month-old in Des Moines, Iowa was going down a plastic slide recorded at 163 degrees when she received second-degree burns on her knees and stomach, as well as on her hands where golf-ball size blisters developed.

Any hotel or apartment complex that has a playground for children should be taking the following precautions:

  • Playgrounds should be designed so adults can supervise children at all times.
  • The playground should be free of hazards. For example, make sure the ground is free of trash and broken glass.
  • There is safety surfacing beneath equipment, especially under climbing materials, such as wood chips, sand, or mulch.
  • The equipment is in good repair. Rust, exposed nails or screws, and loose pieces can be hazardous. Plastics should be free of cracks and wood free of splinters.
  • There is adequate shading. If equipment is metal, ensure it is not too hot.
  • Steer children to age-appropriate equipment.