Playground Safety Checklist
Each year in the United States, approximately 150,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries. Whether your child is playing in your back yard, at a local playground or in the park, be on the lookout for unsafe playing conditions.

• Choose play areas that are well maintained. Avoid playgrounds with broken or missing equipment, loose parts, jagged edges, rust, rot or termite infestation. Athletic equipment, such as soccer goals and basketball posts, should be well padded and firmly anchored in the ground. Avoid play areas with excessive litter, broken glass or standing water.

• Make sure that nearby electrical equipment – air conditioners, generators, switchboxes – is inaccessible.

• Check that the play area is inaccessible to the street.

• Make sure equipment is spaced so that children do not fall from one activity into another, and can move safely between pieces of equipment. Swings should be at least 2 feet apart. (Explain to children the dangers of walking in front of and behind moving swings. Supervise swing play closely.)

• Platforms and ramps should have rails or barriers. (Falls from equipment account for two-thirds of emergency-room visits for playground injuries.) Equipment should be no higher than 7 feet for school-age children and 6 feet or lower for preschool children.

• Check that impact-absorbent surfaces are placed under all potential fall zones. About 9 to 12 inches of clean sand, bark mulch or pea gravel provides the safest surface beneath play equipment. Avoid playgrounds with hard surfaces, such as asphalt, concrete or hard-packed earth.

• Look for rotting wood or rusting metal. This sort of disintegration, particularly at ground level, can cause play structures to collapse.

• Check the anchoring of play equipment. Concrete footings should be recessed 4 to 6 feet beneath the base ground and should be covered with a resilient material.

• Beware of strangulation hazards – loose ropes, cables or wires, protruding bolts, S-hooks or other hardware that can entrap clothing, jewelry or limbs.

• Look for small areas that can entrap a child’s body or head. Spaces between 3-1/2 to 9 inches wide can be very dangerous.

Remember, even on the safest playgrounds, there is no substitute for supervision.