Playground Safety Tips
Playgrounds are an essential part of any neighborhood and an important part of growing up in Illinois. Playgrounds provide seemingly limitless opportunities for children to play, get exercise, and experience freedom of imagination outdoors. However, it is important for parents and teachers to keep an eye out for faulty equipment, surfaces, and other factors that may make your local playground unsafe.
In honor of National Playground Safety Week, April 22 through 26, 2019, our Chicago child injury lawyers present a short guide to common playground safety issues and what parents and teachers should watch for to keep children safe.
Illinois Playground Safety Requirements
In Illinois, playground equipment should undergo inspection and certification by a playground safety expert before open to the public. The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) trains and certifies playground safety experts to identify potential safety hazards before someone suffers injury. Inspectors conduct examinations of the equipment, the surrounding area, and the property holding the playground.
The CPSC states that all ground covering beneath the playground must meet CPSC regulations in order to provide sufficient cushion in the event of a fall from equipment. In addition, Illinois requires fall zones extending twice the height of the structure must exist around all structures, preventing falls from one piece of equipment onto another located too close. To prevent falls, all guardrails should be in place.
Swings occur two per bay at maximum and must be at least 30 inches from other swings or the support frame. Finally, all openings on playground equipment must be smaller than three inches or larger than nine inches, preventing children from entrapment within equipment openings.
Common Playground Injuries
Most playground injuries take place on public playgrounds, including those at parks or at a school and open to the public. Keep an eye out for injuries related to these factors:
Trips and Falls
Over 50% of playground injuries involve abrasions (road rash), contusions (bruises), and broken or fractured limbs. Many of these result from tripping and falling on the playground. Prevent trips and falls by removing outside debris from the area before playing.
Falls from Equipment
Many of the other broken limbs and bruises result from a child falling from a piece of equipment. Take care that your child does not attempt climbing or swinging from equipment not designed for his or her age level – playgrounds should cite the ideal age of the children utilizing them in writing.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) from playground equipment use results in nearly 20,000 ER visits every year.
The leading cause of playground-related death involves strangulation from an external object the child used in conjunction with the equipment, such as a jump rope, leash, or rope. Do not allow children to use jump ropes or other similar objects on the playground. In addition, drawstrings on children’s hoods, jackets, and other clothing can pose a strangulation hazard as well.
Playground equipment that is sharp, uneven, or otherwise broken, is unsafe for play. Do not allow children to use equipment that is in poor or broken condition.
Uneven or insufficient ground cover surfaces pose a tripping hazard as well as a risk for abrasions and lacerations.
Outdated, Worn Equipment
Older playground equipment may be rusty, have unsafe paint, or splintered wood that can pose a risk for children. Request such equipment receive safety inspections or updates before allowing your child to play.
Equipment with moving parts such as swings, seesaws, and ride-ons can pose a pinch or crush hazard for small fingers. Ensure children use such equipment properly and keep fingers away from areas prone to pinching.
Dangerous Trash and Debris
Outside elements such as trash, broken glass, sticks, and other sharp objects present a risk when located on playground surfaces, equipment, or sandboxes. Inspect the playground for such items before allowing your children to play.