Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue
According to Safest Playground, there are approximately 600 childhood injuries every day, over 200,000 injuries annually, on playgrounds across the U.S. that result in visiting the emergency room. The vast majority (79%) of these injuries are fall-related that account for 90% of the most severe playground injuries, i.e., severe fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and amputations. While 76% of all injuries occur on public playgrounds, states BrainLine Kids, 23% of the yearly injury rate are injuries that occur on home playground equipment. Equipment most often associated with these types of injuries are climbers, swings, slides and overhead ladders.
Children not only experience severe injuries but also die from playground equipment-related deaths. Each year, approximately 15 children die playing on playgrounds. Although falls and head injuries account for the majority of playground-related injuries and fatalities, the primary cause (58%) is strangulation. Strangulation occurs when a child’s clothing or draw strings are caught on the equipment. Although playground-related injuries are preventable, they still occur — a major contributor (45%) of playground-related injuries is the lack of or improper supervision.
National Playground Safety Week begins April 24th – April 28th, an event sponsored by National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS). This annual event is a reminder to parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, camp counselors, and others that children are vulnerable to playground-related injuries and fatalities. To keep your child safe on the playground start by implementing the S.A.F.E Factors and Adult & Kid Safety Checklists to properly maintain a safe playground atmosphere:
- Provide proper supervision of children on playgrounds.
- Design age-appropriate playgrounds.
- Provide proper fall surfacing under and around playgrounds.
- Properly maintain playground equipment.
Adult Safety Checklist:
- Adult presence is needed to watch for potential hazards.
- Remove ropes and strings on clothing. They can cause accidental strangulation if caught on equipment.
- Age-appropriate equipment with separate areas and different equipment.
- Three categories for children:
- Toddlers (6 months – 2 years old)
- Preschool (2 years – 5 years old)
- School age (5 years – 12 years old)
- Ages 2 – 5 years old and ages 5 – 12 years old need separate areas with different equipment.
- Three categories for children:
- Acceptable play surfaces, i.e., hardwood fiber/mulch, pea gravel, sand and synthetic materials, i.e. poured-in-place, rubber mats or tiles.
- Perform an equipment check:
- Is it in good working order?
- Safe and anchored safely in the ground?
- No jagged edges or sharp points?
- No hot surfaces? Surface areas on metal equipment from sunlight can cause burn injuries.
- S-hooks are entirely closed, bolts are not protruding, there are no exposed footings, etc.?
- Openings between guardrails and ladder rungs are at least 3.5 inches (to prevent kids getting their heads in) and more than 9 inches (to get out)?
- Installed at least 6 feet from fences, walls and trees?
Kid Safety Checklist:
- Are adults at the playground?
- Can adults see children at all times even in crawl spaces?
- Is the equipment in good condition?
- Is the playground environment clean?
- Is the equipment surface smooth?
Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee urges the public to get involved at home, school and your neighborhood to help reduce unintentional injuries among children.
For more information, visit Playground Professionals playgroundprofessionals.com, Safest Playground safestplayground.com, National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) playgroundsafety.org, and BrainLine Kids at brainline.org.