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Playground Safety

Playgrounds are a great place for kids to have fun and get exercise in the fresh air but they can be hazardous. Each year, across the US more than 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. These injuries are often caused by faulty or poorly installed equipment, improper surfaces and careless behavior.

Helping your child to make the playground safe and entertaining can be as simple as following a few simple guidelines.

  • Teach your child how to play safely. Children who know the rules of the playground are less likely to get hurt.
  • Adult supervision helps prevent accidents by ensuring that kids are using the playground equipment properly and are not engaging in unsafe behavior in the area. Older children often love to test their limits and younger children are not always able to foresee dangerous situations.
  • If an injury does occur, an adult can offer immediate assistance.
  • Check to ensure that the play areas are designed to allow an adult to view the playground area.
  • A proper surface can reduce injuries. The surface under playground equipment should be soft enough and thick enough to cushion the impact of a child’s fall. Rubber mats and wood chips allow the best access for wheelchairs. The surface should be free of standing water and debris. The cushioned surface should extend at least 6 feet past the equipment (additional coverage may be needed under slides and swings).
  • No surfacing materials are considered safe if the combined height of the equipment and the child standing on the highest platform is higher than 12 feet.
  • Routinely inspect the equipment. Check for broken pieces and objects that stick out on equipment that can cut or entangle. Check for wear – cracks, rust, or splintering.
  •  Check for pinch points.

Playground equipment should be designed for two different age groups: Two to five-year-olds (preschool) and five to 12-year-olds (school age). The safest playgrounds will have separate areas. Look for these problem areas:

  • Guardrails or protective barriers should be in place for elevated surfaces.
  • Swings and other equipment with moving parts should be located in a separate area. They should be made of soft material.
  • Swings should be limited to two per bay.
  • Tot swings should have their own bay.
  • Be sure there are no spaces that can trap a child. Openings on equipment should measure less than three and a half inches or be wider than nine inches.
  • Watch for any type of rope attached to play equipment to prevent strangulation.


  • Be careful
  • Follow the rules
  • Stay safe
  • Avoid injury

Additional Resources