A nationwide investigation by the Public Interest Research Groups and the Consumer Federation of America found that many of America’s playgrounds pose hidden threats to children. Each year, nearly 190,000 children are injured seriously enough to require emergency room treatment and an average of 15 children die each year playing on playgrounds. Some of the most common hazards that parents should look for include:
- Lack of adequate protective surfacing. Protective surfacing is the most critical safety factor on playgrounds because approximately 75% of all injuries are caused by falls.
- Swings that are too close together or too close to swing supports.
- Slides and climbing equipment without an adequate fall zone under and around the play equipment. Other equipment and obstacles in the fall zone pose hazards where a child might fall.
- Improperly sized openings in the play equipment which pose a head entrapment hazard.
As a first step in evaluating the safety of a playground, parents and others can use CFA’s Parent Checklist. It is available for free to individuals by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Parent Checklist, P. O. Box 12099, Washington, D.C. 20005-0999.