Playground Safety

Playgrounds are a great place for children to play outside and get exercise. Unfortunately more than 213,000 kids younger than 18 are treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for playground-related injuries every year. Although playground guidelines and standards exist, more needs to be done to prevent these injuries. 

Playground Injury Facts

  • Of the children treated in U.S. emergency departments for injuries from playgrounds:
  • Most injuries are the result of a fall.
  • The most common types of injuries include broken bones, bruises, cuts, and sprains.
  • The arm is the most commonly injured body part. 
  • Injuries occur most often on climbers, swings and slides.
  • Children ages 5 to 12 suffer the most injuries.
  • Most playground injuries happen at school or parks.

Playground Safety Tips

  • Avoid playground equipment over concrete, blacktop or grass. Play equipment should have wood chips, rubber surfacing or sand under and around it.
  • Check for spaces where your child’s head could get stuck. Spaces should be smaller than 3.5 inches or larger than 9 inches in length and width.
  • Make sure platforms and ramps have guardrails or barriers.
  • Fix places where children might trip, such as tree roots, rocks and uneven concrete.
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clothesline or pet leashes to playground equipment.
  • Have children remove bicycle helmets before entering the playground areas so that their heads do not get stuck in the equipment.

Additional Playground Safety Resources

  • Epidemiology of playground equipment-related injuries to children in the United States, 1996-2005