But for as much fun as playgrounds offer, there are a few safety issues that both parents and children should be aware of.
According to statistics gathered by the National Program for Playground Safety, more than 200,000 preschool and elementary children a year receive injuries on playgrounds that are severe enough to require an emergency room visit. But this does not mean that playgrounds are inherently unsafe. In fact, there are several characteristics of a safe playground that can easily be identified – such as a rubber flooring called safety surfacing.
“Safety surfacing is huge [in playground safety],” says Adam Curry, vice president of B.E.A.R., a playground equipment manufacturer. “You want to have adequate safety surfacing so if anyone is going to horse around on a play set they won’t land on cement or rocks, [they will] land on something that will absorb some shock.”
It is also important to look out for safety zones in all areas, particularly around the swing sets. According to Curry, when playing on a swing, two feet of space is needed for each foot of swing in both front and back. This means a 10 foot swing requires 40 full feet of open space around it so if the child falls awkwardly, he or she will have a safe place to land.
Curry also notes that when playing on a private, residential play set, structural integrity becomes a concern. “You don’t want to play on anything that is flimsy or hazardous that could break while you’re on it,” says Curry.
Even if all possible precautions are taken, injuries can still occur. That is why arguably the biggest step towards having a safer trip to the playground is the easiest – simple parental supervision.