Playground Safety

Each year, more than 200,000 children are injured on playgrounds. Most of these injuries could have been prevented.

During National Playground Safety Week, April 22-26, 2002, the National Program for Playground Safety is launching its new program "Kid Checkers"

The Kid Checker program will empower children to check for dangerous things on the playground before they use the equipment. The Kid Checker checklist is based on CPSC guidelines and the NPPS SAFE model.

In conjunction with the Kid Checkers program, NPPS is also developing Web pages just for children that will offer a variety of tools and games to help teach children about the importance of safety.

What Can You Do to Promote Playground Safety?

The NPPS offers the following suggestions:

    * Complete playground equipment safety checks and evaluations.
    * Challenge your daycare or school to an injury-free week on the playground.
    * Host a guest speaker to discuss safety on the playground.
    * Check out your local playgrounds. If there is hard surfacing, such as asphalt, concrete, dirt, or grass underneath play equipment, call the owner and politely voice your concern. Ask if there is anything you can do to help.
    * Write to the editor of your hometown newspaper commenting on any playground safety issues in your local community.
    * Give credit to those facilities with safe playgrounds as well. With children, make a maximum of five playground rules that they can remember and follow.

Things you can check to help make your playgrounds SAFE:

    * Make sure you supervise children when they are playing on the playground.
    * Check the ground cover surrounding all equipment. It is recommended that a soft surface of sand, wood chips, shredded tires or sponge mats be in place and should equal a depth of 10-12 inches. Asphalt, cement, stone or grass surfaces are too dangerous as they do not protect a falling child.
    * Make certain all equipment is free of loose or broken parts and that bolts and screws are receding or are covered with plastic caps. The S-shaped rings attached to swing chains should be closed on both ends.
    * Ensure sandboxes are free of animal feces.
    * Equipment should be at least 6 feet away from fences or buildings to allow free movement of the children and the equipment parts.

If playground hazards are spotted, they should be reported immediately to the daycare provider, the local Parks and Recreation Department or housing authority. These problems should then be followed up to ensure they are corrected.