Home Playground Equipment Safety

Each year, an estimated 51,000 children on injured on playground equipment in their own homes. Most often injuries occur from falls to the ground or on other equipment. Strangulation is also a real danger. Below are steps you can take to make your home playground safe.
  • Since falls account for most injuries, it is important to get the proper protective surfacing as a base for your playground equipment. If a child falls on an asphalt or concrete surface, serious head injuries or even death can occur. Grass surfaces too can lose their ability to cushion the fall when they get worn. Loose fill material such as shredded bark mulch, wood chips, fine sand, and fine gravel may be a good choice. Other synthetic materials may also be acceptable. You should always check test data on the material from the manufacturer.
  • Use Zones - A use zone is an area that is covered with a protective surfacing material and free from equipment or other things a child may fall on. The use zone is especially important under and around equipment where a child might fall, such as climbing equipment and slides. These types of equipment need a use zone extending at least 6 feet in all directions from the equipment. Swings also need a use zone of at least 6 feet extending from the outer edge of the support structure on each side. The use zone in front and back of the swing should extend out twice the height of the swing as measured from the ground to the swing hangers on support structure.

To keep children from running into moving swings, the swings should not be close to one another or too close to the structures that support them. There should be:

  • At least 8 inches between suspended swings and between a swing and the support frame.
  • At least 16 inches from the swing support frame to other equipment such as a pendulum see- saw.  
  • Minimum clearance between the ground and underside of swing seat should be 8 inches.  
  • Swing sets should be securely anchored.  
  • If you playground equipment has platforms that are more than 30" above the ground, it should have guardrails to prevent falls. Openings that are closed on all sides, should be less than 3 1/2 inches or greater than 9 to prevent children from getting their heads caught in the hole. A child may be able to get his or her body through the opening, but the head won't fit. This presents a strangulation danger.  
  • Open "S" hooks and other hardware that sticks out from the equipment present an entrapment and  strangulation danger. Children's clothing can get caught on these fixtures. Close all "S" hooks as tightly as possible and get rid of other catch-points.  
  • Make sure there are no exposed moving parts which may pose a pinching or crushing hazard that children could stick their hands or other parts of their body in.  
  • Make sure you look over your playground regularly to make sure there are no dangers that have developed over time. Check the depth of your protective surface, look for loose hardware, and remove any dangers such as hanging ropes from the equipment. Other dangers to look for include: exposed equipment footings, paint chips and rust, splinters and problems with the wood in wooden structures, rocks or other material that might hurt children if they fell on them, and damages or lost pieces that are part of the original equipment.


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