Playground Inspections Prevent Injuries

We’ve got tips to help you evaluate the safety of the playgrounds where your children play.

Every year, hospital emergency rooms treat more than 156,000 musculoskeletal injuries suffered by children as the result of playground-related accidents. In response, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) sponsors the Safe and Accessible Playground program to help prevent playground-related injuries.

The following guidelines were developed by the AAOS to help parents evaluate the safety of a playground and guide children to a safe, happy play experience:

  • Avoid playgrounds surfaced with concrete, asphalt, hard-packed soil, or grass. A surface that provides cushion is safer under play equipment that is up to seven feet high. Recommended surfaces include wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber.
  • Inspect playground equipment for sturdiness, and avoid equipment that shows signs of rust, corrosion, rot, or weathering.
  • Check the space around slides and merry-go-rounds. When the exit areas are spacious, it will be easier for children to get off the equipment. When children are crowded into these exit areas, there is more risk of injury.
  • Areas for active play, like swinging, should be separated from areas for quiet play like digging in sandboxes.
  • Spaces designed for preschoolers should be separated from the areas where older, more active children play.
  • Try the handgrips on equipment. If you can’t grasp them easily, your child may also have problems using them.
  • Look for plastic or rubber swing seats. Steer your child away from swings with metal or wood seats.
  • Avoid equipment with openings that could trap a child’s head.
  • Check site lines. You should be able to clearly see your child on the playground, and your child should also have unobstructed views.
  • Remove or avoid tripping hazards such as exposed concrete, tree stumps, or rocks.

Taking an active interest in the safety of your child’s playground can help to keep your little one active, happy—and out of the doctor’s office.

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