10 Questions for Playground Safety
Concerns surrounding playground safety are valid and important to question. We all want our kids to be safe, but how do we know what questions to ask? Thankfully Voice of Play & IPEMA—whose goal is to improve playground safety—recommend asking these 10 questions to prevent playground injuries. The National Recreation and Park Association claims more than 2/3 of playground injuries happen because of poor or neglected maintenance issues. To protect our children and our playgrounds Struthers' employees are trained to be Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI). At Struthers Recreation we realize the tremendous value of play in childhood development and insist on placing equal importance in the security and knowledge that our kids are as safe as possible while playing on any structure we put our name on.
1942 Central Park in New York City, Kids Playing on Monkey Bars on Asphalt
1. Is the playground surface safe?
As a child who remembers your school playground surface being anything besides safe? Rock-hard red dirt and sharp rocks are not what we would call safety surfacing today. Thankfully we've learned much more about playground safety and how to keep kids safe while allowing them the freedom of playground fun! Today unsafe surfacing such as concrete and even grass are known to raise the risk of severe injury or death due to falls. The number one cause of injuries on playgrounds is falling. So it is extremely important to protect children from playgrounds that have no safety surfacing such as engineered wood fiber, synthetic turf, or poured-in-place rubber.
2. Is there enough room underneath and around playground equipment?
Surrounding playground equipment today should be a six foot zone referred to as the minimum use zone. These use zones are invisible yet impenetrable areas in our design process that are observed strictly for the peace of mind and safety of those using the equipment. For specific use zone requirements see the ASTM F1487 Standard, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.
3. Is there enough space between the pieces of playground equipment?
Much like the previous question when observing playground equipment for safety, the general rule is to allow a minimum use zone of six feet around playground equipment. For specific use zone requirements see the ASTM F1487 Standard, or the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.
4. Is the playground appropriate for the child?
Not only should we as parents make sure our children are playing on the equipment designed for and intended for use by their age group, but in teaching older children to recognize and respect these age limits we can empower them to be able to play safely and keep their younger friends and siblings safe at the same time. Notice signage that makes you aware of age restrictions that the playground equipment is designed to be used by, usually divided into ages 2 to 5, or 5 to 12 or both.
5. Does the equipment put the child at risk from protruding objects?
Check for protruding objects or jutting pieces of hardware on the equipment. These can seriously cut or injure kids. Teach kids also what to be aware of so they can take care of others around them who might be unaware.
6. Does the playground equipment present a strangulation risk?
Loose or hanging clothing, scarves, jewelry, strings, and other clothing can be potentially snagged or cause strangulation. Inspect the equipment for anything that could cause issues by grabbing loose pieces of fabric or metal. Leave any clothing that might be susceptible to snagging off when dressing for the park.
7. Are there any moving parts that could pinch a child?
Check for any moving pieces or parts that could inadvertently pinch, crush, or catch clothing injuring or preventing them from escaping from danger.
8. Is there anything that might cause a child to trip?
Look for anything that could be sticking up causing children to trip and fall. Smooth surfaces are best to minimize the tripping hazards. Watch out for unlevel ground, especially tree stumps, roots, and rocks.
9. Is the playground well maintained?
A well-maintained playground will not show signs of rust or deterioration in other places. Hardware will be well-working and safe. Playgrounds that look well maintained normally undergo regular inspections by a competent staff and any issues are quickly fixed. Great playground facilities workers are happy to fix any problems that are reported as well.
10. Has the playground been renovated since 1993?
Older playgrounds from the 1960s through the 80s had many hazardous pieces of equipment. There should be no heavy metal swings or other unsafe equipment on existing playgrounds. If your playground has not been renovated in a long time, start asking who you can work with to get the playground up to date and safe for all kids to play freely.
Keep Your Playground Up to Date
Contact the local playground expert in your neighborhood if you have concerns about the condition of your playground. You can also request a free copy of the playground maintenance guide provided by GameTime.