Each year, more than 200,000 children go to U.S. hospital
emergency rooms with injuries associated with playground equipment. Almost
50,000 of the injuries occur on home playgrounds and 40 percent of those
injured are younger than five years old.
Most injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment
onto the ground. Many backyard play sets are placed on dirt or grass – surfaces
that do not adequately protect children when they fall.
Make your backyard playground a safe place to play!
Home playground safety checklist
Use this simple checklist to help make sure your home
playground is a safe place to play.
Install and maintain a shock-absorbing surface around the
play equipment. Since almost 60 percent of all injuries are caused by falls,
protective surfacing under and around all playground equipment can reduce the
risk of serious head injury.
Use at least 9 inches of wood chips, mulch, or shredded
rubber for home play equipment up to 7 feet high, OR;
Use at least a 9-inch layer of sand or pea gravel for play
equipment up to 5 feet high, OR;
Use surfacing mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like
Make sure you assemble equipment correctly and according to
instructions. It should be on a level surface and firmly anchored.
Install protective surfacing at least 6 feet in all
directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back
and front, twice the height of the swing set.
Check the spacing between swings.
Be sure there is at least 8 inches between suspended swings
and between a swing and the support frame.
There should be at least 16 inches from a support frame to a
The minimum clearance between the ground and underside of
swing seat should be 8 inches.
All swing sets should be securely anchored.
Swing seats should be made of something soft instead of
metal or wood.
Never attach – or allow children to attach – ropes, jump
ropes, clotheslines, or pet leashes to play equipment. Children can strangle on
Check for hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt
ends, which can be hazardous.
Check for spaces that could trap children, such as openings
in guardrails or between ladder rungs. These spaces should measure less than
3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
Make sure platforms and ramps more than 30 inches above the
ground have guardrails to prevent falls.
Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
Remove tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings,
tree stumps, and rocks.
Regularly check play equipment and surfacing to make sure
both are in good condition.
Carefully supervise children on play equipment to make sure
they are safe.
Smaller climbing gyms for younger children should never be
placed on hard surfaces outdoors or indoors, even if covered with carpet.
Beware of burns. Equipment in direct sunlight can get hot
enough to cause severe burns, even in 70 degree weather.
(Taken from the American Academy of Pediatrics’s “Safety Tips
For Home Playground Equipment”)