Playgrounds are fun and exciting places for children. They can help to build dexterity, and they are a great place to make new friends.
Each year, doctors and hospitals treat more than 500,000 injuries related to playground equipment. The vast majority of injuries on the playground are connected with climbing equipment and swings. Injuries are also related to slide use and, to a lesser degree, to teeter-totters and seesaws. More than half of injuries on a playground result from falls to a surface. Because falls are the most common type of playground accident, there should be special attention to preventing falls and lessening their severity.
Children fall because they slip, lose their grip, or lose their balance while playing on monkey bars, swings, slides, merry-go-rounds, and seesaws. Often they are hurt not only by the fall, but by being struck by the equipment as they fall.
SUPERVISION is the key! – Close supervision by a responsible adult may be the most important factor in preventing playground injuries. Age appropriate equipment and carefully designed playground layouts, by themselves, won’t be enough to prevent all injuries that may occur. Focused supervision and proper instruction in the use of the equipment, as well as monitoring and enforcement of the rules, is important to supplement the proper surfaces, equipment design, and maintenance.
CHECK THE EQUIPMENT – Parents, relatives, teachers, babysitters, or anyone who sends or brings children to the playground should periodically inspect the facility for hazards. Report any problems to the proper officials. Don’t let your children use that playground until the authorities have completed repairs. Schools and cities should keep playgrounds in good condition by inspecting and maintaining the equipment throughout the year. The most popular equipment on a playground might wear out quickly.
PROPER PLAYGROUND SURFACE – The type of surface on the playground is the most important factor in the number and severity of injuries due to falls. The number and severity of injuries can be reduced by using softer surfaces, such as wood mulch or chips, shredded tires, or sand. Hard surfaces, such as asphalt and concrete, would result in the most severe injuries and are unsuitable under any playground equipment. Soil, packed dirt, grass, and turf are not recommended for surfacing, because their ability to absorb shock can be affected greatly by weather conditions and wear.