The Hidden Dangers of Playgrounds

There’s nothing more innocent and youthful as a child running around having fun at their local playground. While playgrounds are intended to be a safe place for children to play outside, unfortunately a large number of injuries happen every year at playgrounds around the country. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that there are more than 200,000 injuries annually on public playgrounds that require emergency room treatment. About 45% are serious injuries, including bone dislocations and fractures, internal injuries, and eye and head trauma. And sadly, most of these accidents happen at school playgrounds. 

The majority of the reported emergency room visits due to playground accidents happens to school kids between the ages of 5-14 and cost an estimated $1.2 billion per year.* While playgrounds are typically designed according to the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission guidelines, more than 50% of the reported injuries happen from equipment design flaws and construction defects. The most common causes of playground related injuries are listed below.

  1. Design flaw or construction defect: Exposed hardware, protruding bolts and sharp edges are all considered design flaws that can cause serious injuries in kids while playing.
  2. Inadequate maintenance or repair: Rusted hardware, missing ladder rungs or steps, broken or loose pieces, or splintered surfaces can all cause harm to children that are playing as intended on park equipment. 
  3. Uneven surfaces: Playground surface materials get lots of wear and tear, and loose material is a concern as surfaces that have shifted can cause children to trip and fall.  Also, all playground equipment should have at least 6 feet of surfacing in every direction to provide cushioning in the event of a fall. 
  4. Harmful heights: Playground equipment should be no higher than six feet for preschoolers and eight feet for school-age children.
  5. Old equipment: According to the National Program for Playground Safety, one-third of all public playgrounds contain outdated and hazardous structures.  Equipment made of heavy plastic or metal can cause serious impact injuries or even burns from the daytime sun heating the surface. 

The Consumer Federation of America reports that climbers such as monkey bars, dome climbers, and arch climbers are the pieces of playground equipment in which children six and older are most frequently injured on. The next leading sources of playground injuries are the swings and slides with fractures being the most frequent type of injury.

Accidents can happen anywhere at anytime, and unfortunately the statistics show that playgrounds, whether they are in neighborhoods or at schools, pose a high risk for injuries. But there are things that can be done to help reduce accidents on playgrounds. Parents can talk to their kids before they return to school this fall and discuss safety tips to follow while they are on the playground. 

Tips to help keep kids safe on the playground:

  • Tell an adult/teacher if any playground equipment is broken, and do not play on it until it is fixed.
  • Sit down at all times while swinging on the swings. And remember to slow down before getting off of the swing.
  • Do not walk near someone who is swinging to avoid getting hit if you walk or run too close to them.
  • When using the climbers, use both hands as you climb, and avoid using the climbers if they are wet from rain or snow to prevent slipping.
  • Always go down the slides feet first and make sure the person in front of you has safely moved away from the bottom of the slide before going down.
  • Keep backpacks and other personal items away from playground equipment so no one will trip over them while playing.

As children everywhere start to head back to school over the next month, we hope that all kids stay safe on the playground. Hausch & Company wishes all the students, parents, and teachers a safe and educational school year. 

*Source: Center for Disease Control
The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Hausch & Company is committed to providing the most accurate data but we do not warrant the reliability of the data, and we assume no liability in connection with any of the information included.
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