Feature Article - January 2009
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Safe Havens

Building & Maintaining Safe Playgrounds

By Richard Zowie



The Dirty Dozen

In the time it takes you to read this information, one child will be severely injured and admitted to an emergency room as a result of a playground-related accident. Estimates show that each year, more than 200,000 such injuries occur, and approximately 15 children die from playground-related injuries.

The National Playground Safety Institute has identified 12 of the leading causes of injury on playgrounds:

  1. Improper protective surfacing
  2. Inadequate fall zone
  3. Protrusion and entanglement hazards
  4. Entrapment in openings
  5. Insufficient equipment spacing
  6. Trip hazards
  7. Lack of supervision
  8. Age-inappropriate activities
  9. Lack of maintenance
  10. Pinch, crush shearing and sharp-edge hazards
  11. Platforms without guardrails
  12. Equipment not recommended for public playgrounds

While not all of these hazards are in your control (for example, you can't always ensure parents keep an eye out and supervise their kids), be sure to pay close attention to your playgrounds to prevent problems from arising that are within your control.

For more information, visit www.nrpa.org/npsi.

Source: National Playground Safety Institute, National Recreation and Park Association