Injury Research and Policy Playground Safety Children Younger Than 6 Years :: Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio

Playground Safety for Children Younger Than 6 Years

Playgrounds are a great place for children to exercise and develop new skills. Unfortunately, more than 213,000 children are treated in emergency departments in the U.S. for playground-related injuries each year.

Playground Injury Facts

  • Most children who are injured on playgrounds are 2-9 years old.
  • Common types of playground-related injuries include broken bones, bruises, cuts and sprains.
  • Most injuries happen when a child falls from equipment, especially if onto a hard surface.
  • The most common cause of playground-related death is strangulation from clothing, strings or ropes.

Condition of Equipment

Not all playgrounds are safe. Injuries can be prevented by checking the condition of the equipment and surroundings before play.

  • Do not use equipment installed over blacktop, concrete, dirt or grass. Play equipment should have sand, rubber, mulch or other safety surfacing under and around it.
  • Stay away from equipment with rust, cracks, rotten areas and loose or missing parts.
  • In warm weather, play equipment can get hot enough to cause burns. Check the surface first before allowing children to play.
  • Do not allow children to add strings, ropes or pet leashes to playground equipment. These can lead to strangulation.

Children Younger than 6 Years

Young children do not have the upper arm strength, hand grip size and coordination for some play equipment. The following are NOT recommended for children younger than 6 years:

  • Free-standing arch climbers
  • Seesaws
  • Parallel bars
  • Log rolls
  • Track rides
  • Sliding poles
  • Spiral slides
  • Overhead rings

Playground Safety Tips

  • Remove bike helmets before playing on equipment. Helmets can cause head entrapment and strangulation when used on playgrounds.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes during play.
  • Do not wear clothing with drawstrings or jewelry around the neck.
  • Avoid trampolines, rope swings, swinging exercise rings and trapeze bars.
  • Check to make sure play equipment is appropriate for your child’s age and ability.
  • Always supervise your children on the playground.
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