According to the Centers for Disease Control, 200,000 children under the age of 14 suffer injuries on the playground each year. The range of these injuries can be devastating – the CDC reports that 45% of playground-related injuries are severe injuries that include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations.
Here are five things you can do to prevent playground accidents.
1. Check the surface on the playground
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in children. One recommendation from the group is to have safer surfaces instead of dirt and grass under playground equipment.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission strongly advises against putting equipment on cement or asphalt without a safety surface. No Fault Sport Group can provide a variety of safety surfaces that can be installed over concrete, asphalt or compacted stone to help prevent injuries. No Fault Surfaces include the traditional poured-in-place surface, bonded mulch, loose mulch or safety tiles, and all are manufactured using a combination of recycled rubber and are an excellent choice to help keep our children safe.
2. Check the equipment on the playground and keep it well-maintained
Equipment that isn’t properly maintained can be extremely dangerous. The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) recommends having a routine equipment maintenance checklist based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and CPSC guidelines.
Key items such as checking to be sure there are no openings from 3.5”-9” where a child’s head or body trappings could occur. There can be no open areas at the top of the slides where strings could get caught and cause strangulation. There can be no more than two swings in a support structure.
Other maintenance is also required such as checking and making sure that the equipment hasn’t rusted, and that there are no missing or damaged pieces. For example, if bolts meant to keep the equipment firmly attached to the ground go missing, the safety of every child that plays on it becomes compromised.
3. Check the temperature
As the weather gets warmer, playground equipment can become extremely hot, and even cause burns. Slides that are made of metal (though not recommended by the CPSC) are still in existence in many older playgrounds. If shade structures do not protect the slide from the sun, the metal areas of the slide can become extremely hot and even cause burns on the skin.
Parents and caregivers should always check for hot surfaces on playground equipment before allowing children to play on it. Likewise, the playground surfaces that are not covered by shade can become very hot as well. Some surfaces such as sand and pea gravel can actually absorb and retain the heat, making them 5 to 10 degrees hotter in the summer months.
According to the CSPC, exposed concrete and asphalt around the playground area can become very hot as well. This can be avoided by applying No Fault Safety Surface poured-in-place or No Fault Safety Tiles. The CPSC also stresses that it doesn’t have to be extremely hot for burns to occur – there have been reported cases of burns that occurred in 74-degree weather.
4. Beware of choking and strangulation hazards
Playground equipment with nets may seem safer because they provide kids a softer place to land – but cargo nets can be dangerous if the openings are too big. Again from the CPSC: Nets with a perimeter opening between 17 and 28 inches could pose hazards for kids. These nets are often found on indoor playground environments. The openings should be too small for a child’s body to go through, but big enough for their head to fit.
Wearing bike helmets on the playground may also pose a strangulation hazard. In 1999, the CPSC issued a warning against wearing bike helmets on playgrounds when a 3-year-old Pennsylvania boy died from strangulation after his bike helmet became wedged as he tried to get through a small opening in the playground equipment. Instead, providing softer surfaces like those from No Fault Sport Group can help to prevent head injuries from falls without the possible strangulation hazards nets and helmets can pose.
5. Make water playgrounds slip-free
There’s nothing more fun than a playground surrounded by water – especially on those hotter days in the summer. Still, making the surface as slip-free as possible can make it even better. No Fault Safety Surface provides a slip-resistant surface for water play surfaces, pool decks and splash pad surfaces.