Playgrounds offer children fresh air, friends and fun. They help kids learn to run, jump, climb and slide. But they also can be dangerous places. Most playground injuries occur when kids fall from equipment. Look for a soft surface of wood chips, mulch or safety-tested rubber under and around all equipment.
There are many choices for the surfacing material that covers your playground equipment. Some are better for safety than others, and they require different levels of maintenance. It’s important to carefully consider all the options available before choosing which one is right for you. For example, synthetic turf is one of the more visually appealing options. It looks like natural grass, but it’s easy to maintain and slip resistant, offering ADA accessibility for strollers and wheelchairs. It also comes in a variety of foam pad thicknesses to offer protection at various critical fall heights.
Poured-in-place rubber surfaces are another option for safety surfacing. They are available in a wide range of colors, shapes and unique patterns that can help make your play area stand out from the competition. These materials also have the added advantage of being low-maintenance and highly durable, with no potential for introducing new toxins into the environment. This makes them an excellent choice for schools, parks and other public spaces.
Whether the equipment is wooden and splintering or metal with sharp edges, any structures that touch children need to be in good shape. Any tripping hazards like rocks and tree roots need to be removed and sightlines should not be obstructed for supervisors. School-age 5 to 12-year-olds have developed most of their physical capacities and can play more daring and challenging equipment than younger kids. To minimize risk, schools should have separate 안전놀이터 areas with different elements designed for each age group.
All equipment should be securely attached to the ground. The ground surfacing under and around equipment needs to be made of a durable, rounded material with an impact attenuating design that has been tested for head injury. Poured-in rubber systems are ideal as they have the best head injury criterion rating and offer high shock absorption. Inspections should be conducted daily or weekly by a member of the maintenance committee. Regular inspections allow for more consistency in findings and provide a better opportunity to catch small issues before they become major problems.
In the United States, over 200,000 kids 14 and under go to hospital emergency rooms each year for playground-related injuries. Many of these injuries are preventable with proper supervision and equipment maintenance. Supervision is the most important factor in reducing playground-related injuries. Kids need an attentive adult to recognize when they are playing on equipment that is beyond their physical capabilities or pushing safety boundaries.
Establishing surveillance zones allows adults to divide up the playground area and focus on monitoring each zone at a time. Controllable distractions like conversations and cell phone use should be avoided so that adults can effectively supervise children. Moving around on the playground also makes your presence known to kids, deterring unsafe behaviors. Additionally, enforcing simple rules like waiting your turn on equipment can help to prevent accidents caused by multiple kids occupying the same structure at once. Also, teaching kids to properly exit structures helps to prevent falls and other injuries.
A good playground should be built on a sturdy surface. Avoid surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, blacktop and packed dirt which can be dangerous for children who fall. Choose soft surfaces that offer more protection, such as wood mulch or safety-tested rubber. Many playground injuries occur when children fall to hard surfaces. Make sure there is adequate surfacing under and around all equipment. This surfacing should be a minimum of 12 inches thick, and may be composed of sand, pea gravel, engineered wood fiber, recycled rubber mulch or factory-made resilient tiles or poured in place rubber.
Also consider installing inclusive equipment that allows all kids to play together, including those with disabilities. Inspect all equipment for sharp edges and points that can entangle clothing, as well as gaps in guardrails and spaces where children’s heads could become trapped. A routine inspection schedule helps identify hazards and repair them promptly. Routine inspections should include checks of all fasteners for looseness or rust, and a look for any objects that could be tripped on or caught in machinery.
A safe playground encourages kids to exercise their bodies and brains while building their confidence. Parents, grandparents and caregivers should check for equipment suited to their children’s abilities and supervise them at all times. Most playground injuries happen when kids fall from equipment onto hard surfaces. Look for a thick layer of soft material called impact attenuating surfacing underneath and around all play structures.