Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 children are treated for playground-related injuries in emergency rooms. If you’re a parent, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as kids are prone to injuries. Whether it’s jumping off the swings, falling off a ladder or running into another child, accidents are commonplace on playgrounds. That said, a lot of these injuries can be prevented with proper playground safety.
So what safety features are most important for modern playgrounds? We recommend including the following features into your custom playground design.
Forgiving Playground Surfaces
The first safety feature to consider is the surfacing. Playground surfacing is found under and around the playground equipment to minimize the impact of falls. Surfaces like dirt, concrete, grass or asphalt are unacceptable. If a child falls onto one of these surfaces, they could experience a life-threatening injury.
Acceptable playground safety surfacing includes:
- Engineered wood fiber
- Recycled loose fill rubber
- Poured in place rubber
- Recycled bonded rubber
- Recycled rubber tiles
- Synthetic turf
Kids can still fall and hurt themselves on these surfaces, but the injuries should be less serious.
Proper Equipment Spacing
Having adequate spacing between your commercial playground equipment is a smart way to avoid unnecessary injuries. When equipment is placed too close together, it increases the chances for kids to run into each other or dart in front of a moving swing. Pay special attention to the swings - ideally these should be set off from the rest of the park - as well as slides and other areas that can get overcrowded.
Good Line of Sight
Kids are safest at parks when they receive proper adult supervision. Help parents out by providing a design that offers a good line of sight. This way, parents can comfortably watch their kids play while enjoying some of their own quiet time. For an optimal site line, strategically place commercial park benches and shade structures around the perimeter of the park.
Proper Guardrails and Barriers
Kids like to climb, but the higher they climb, the risk for falls and injuries increases. For preschool children, guardrails are required on structures more than 20 inches, and barriers are required for 30 inches. For elementary-age children, guardrails are required on structures taller than 30 inches and barriers are required for 48 inches.
Having a great playground design from the start is an effective way to prevent unnecessary injuries. However, parks need maintenance and inspections, as all equipment will experience wear and tear over time. A regular playground maintenance including safety inspections will reveal potential dangers so you can fix them and ensure your playground is safe for everyone.
To discuss your playground project and the safety features you want to include, contact Cunningham Recreation today.