Playground Safety Guide

To ensure children’s safety on the playground, it is important to recognize different hazards, common sources of injury, and how to mitigate situations. Guidelines set up by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) help parents, caregivers, and education personnel create playground environments that are safe and inviting to all.

Understanding Playground Fall Risks

A recent study of playground equipment-related incidents found that 44% of treated emergency room injuries came from falls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that emergency departments see more than 20,000 children annually for playground-related traumatic head injuries.

  • Fall surfaces should be made from shock absorbing material like wood chips or rubber.
  • The area under/around fall zones should be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions.
  • Ladders steeper than 65 degrees should have hand grips and stairs with handrails on both sides.

Best Supervisory Practices

Because children can be expected to use playground equipment in unintended ways, adult supervision is recommended. Supervisors should be aware that not all playground equipment is appropriate for all children as different age groups differ in size, ability, intellect, and sociability.

  • Children under four years should not play on horizontal ladders or climbing equipment.
  • “Whirls” or “roundabouts” are best suited for children 5 to 12 years of age.
  • Ensure that there is a line of sight to all areas of the playground to keep track of children as they move.

Ensuring Children’s Safety

Supervisors should always stay aware of playground equipment upkeep and maintenance requirements. If equipment is found to be unsafe, report the problem to the park district or school to prevent any possible injuries.

  • Metal or wood swing seats should be replaced with soft seats that will not splinter or burn children.
  • All corners should be rounded and smooth, with rolled or round capped edges.
  • Regularly check for signs of wear and tear and broken or missing components.

Be a Safety Leader!

By being aware of the hazards and conditions of playgrounds, supervisors can bring a greater level of safety to their children. In both public and private playground settings, it is important to supervise children’s safety while still encouraging them to explore and develop. All playgrounds present some challenges, but being attentive and mindful will ensure all children’s safety during play.