Play it Safe
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Play it Safe

How safe is your child's playground?

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 200,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for playground equipment-related injuries every year. Check out your child's favorite place to play to see if it meets these safety standards.

At your local playground

  • Playgrounds with surfaces of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea-gravel are much safer than those with asphalt or concrete surfaces. Be sure the surface is at least 12 inches thick and extends at least 6 feet past the equipment in all directions.
  • Make sure the spaces in the equipment -- such as ladder rungs and the openings in guardrails -- are either less than 3 1/2 inches or greater than 9 inches.
  • Watch for protruding bolts or "S" hooks that can snag kids' clothes and pose a risk of strangulation. Also, keep an eye out for sharp edges.
  • Elevated platforms and ramps should have guardrails to prevent falls.
  • In warm weather, check for hot surfaces on metal equipment before letting your child play. With the sun beating down on them, solid steel decks, slides and steps can reach temperatures high enough to burn skin.
  • Always supervise your child's play.

In your own backyard

  • Be sure that swings are at least 8 inches apart, and that there's also 8 inches between the swing and the swing set frame.
  • Check that the swing set is securely anchored to the ground.
  • Place playground equipment over a base of at least 12 inches of mulch, wood chips, sand or pea gravel. Never put equipment on concrete or asphalt.
  • Extend the protective surface at least 6 feet on each side of the equipment.
  • Make sure all platforms higher than 30 inches from the ground have guardrails to prevent falls.
  • Be sure that the spaces in the equipment -- such as ladder rungs and the openings in guardrails -- are either less than 3 1/2 inches or greater than 9 inches.
  • Watch for protruding bolts or "S" hooks that can snag kids' clothes and pose a risk of strangulation. Also, keep an eye out for sharp edges.
  • Routinely clear the area of debris, litter, rock or tree roots.--Kristen Finello

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