Child Playground Safety
Children are prone to sustaining injuries on the playground. It is important that precautions and safety rules (for playground owners and parents/guardians) are upheld to prevent accidents.
Playground safety rules ensure that proper age-size equipment and playground construction regulations are adhered to.
New York State has adopted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) Public Playground Safety Handbook for construction of playgrounds and issued guidelines for playground safety. Where there is the negligence of these rules either in the construction or use of the playground, kids could sustain varying degrees of injuries that include:
- Brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Accidental strangulation
- Slips and falls
- Bruises, etc.
Playgrounds represent happiness, playfulness, and good times by all. While they offer fresh air and new friends and an outlet to let kids burn off all that excess energy, playgrounds can also become a place for bumps and bruises, and sometimes, serious injury. Each year, more than 200,000 kids are treated in hospital Emergency Rooms for playground-related injuries.
Regulations for Child Playground Safety
On a playground, it is mandatory that children can only play where there is a supervising adult. The supervision will ensure the use of age-appropriate equipment and areas.
Materials such as shredded/recycled rubber, sand, pea gravel, wood mulch, and wood chips should be used in constructing a playground instead of concrete, asphalt, grass or dirt as these latter materials provide the least cushion in the event of a fall.
Maintenance is Critical
Proper maintenance and safety of a playground are critical. While parents and chaperones will check over a playground to make sure it is safe, most people do not know what to look for. It is the responsibility of the owner of the playground to ensure its safety and maintenance.
Many owners, such as local towns or schools, often defer needed maintenance due to budget or manpower concerns. They often fail to properly inspect or maintain the playground or supply sufficient shock-absorbing materials. Additionally, the owner is slow to replenish materials such as mulch or replace padding on a regular basis as needed due to foot traffic, the environment, wind, play, and ordinary wear-and-tear. Such failures in inspections and maintenance can lead to dangerous conditions that put children at risk when they inevitably will fall from playground equipment like monkey bars, slides, or swings.
Other Rules for Playground Safety
- Children of 2 years and below should not climb higher than 32 inches (about three feet) while children between ages two to five should be restricted to heights of 60 inches (about five feet).
- Ensure there is ample room to serve as buffer zones in case of falls.
- Beware of ropes and laces that could strangle the child during climbs and other sports.
- Children below two and half years should not use slides as they risk injuries and broken legs in the event of a fall.
Where there is negligence and an injury occurs, parents or guardians can file a lawsuit against the playground owner to recover medical expenses and damages with the help of a child injury lawyer in New York.
Actively Watch Your Kids
Falls are by far the most common type of playground injury. Accounting for just over seventy-five percent of all playground-related injuries. Often this may stem from a lack of proper supervision. By actively supervising your children, approximately forty-five percent of playground-related injuries can be avoided. Plus, kids love to be watched and applauded as they slide, swing, and jump! When you bring your kids to the park, this is easy to do, but who is watching your kids when they are in school or camp? These places should be providing proper supervision for all children while playing on the playground.
Check the Area Before Play Begins
To protect the kids, playgrounds should be designed with shock-absorbing surfaces such as rubber, synthetic turf, sand, pea gravel, wood chips, or mulch as we mentioned. If your child falls, the landing will be more cushioned than on asphalt, concrete, grass, or dirt. Always check the ground before your kids start to climb and play to ensure that the padding or ground cover is in good condition and ready for a child’s seemingly endless supply of energy.
Double-check that the park, school, or child care center has age-appropriate, well-maintained playground equipment and if you personally notice any hazards within a playground, report it to the proper authorities such as the Parks Department or the school immediately and do not allow children to use the equipment until it is safe.
Be Age-Aware and Age-Appropriate
Most playgrounds have signs stating the proper age ranges for the area. Usually, the age ranges are 2 to 5 years or 5 to 12 years old. For babies who are learning to walk, the play area should have a smooth and easy surface to walk on. And when you are playing with your children on a larger playground, make sure that they are using appropriate equipment such as bucket swings and shorter slides with tall sides. Appropriate dress is also important when heading out to the park. Now is the time to leave necklaces, purses, scarves, or clothing with drawstrings at home. These items can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. By taking them off beforehand, even if that means you get left holding a giant pile of clothes, your kids will be safer and less likely to get tangled up in the playground.
Finally, once you’re at the playground, watch that your kids are behaving well and make sure you are teaching your children that pushing, shoving, and running while on the playground can be dangerous. If there are kids that are behaving in a rough, unsafe manner or are bothering or bullying other kids, bring this to the attention of the parent or guardian. This way, you can keep yourself, your kids, and others safe and happy for a day at the playground.
If your child was hurt due to negligence or improper maintenance of playground equipment, call the Law Offices of Elan Wurtzel at 516-822-7866.