Top 10 Playground Safety Questions Everyone Should Ask

1. Is the playground surface safe?

Falling is the number one cause of injuries on the playground. A child who falls on a hard surface such as concrete or even grass can be seriously injured or even killed. Never allow a child to play on play equipment that is placed over a hard surface such as asphalt, concrete, packed earth or grass. Surfacing should be certified wood fiber, shredded rubber or poured-in-place surfacing. Any surfacing to be used in a play area should be certified by IPEMA and maintained to its proper depth.

2. Is there enough room underneath and around playground equipment?

The general rule is to allow a minimum use zone of six feet around playground equipment. Refer to the ASTM F1487 Standard or the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for specific use zone requirements.

3. Is there enough space between the playground equipment?

Proper use zones depend on the piece of play equipment. These guidelines are outlined in the CPSC Playground Safety Handbook

4. Is the playground appropriate for the child?

Most manufacturers of play equipment label the different playgrounds with a recommended age range.

There should be play activities designed for children with varying ages and abilities.

5. Does the equipment put the child at risk from protruding objects?

Jutting pieces of hardware can cause serious injuries. Having a Certified Playground Safety Inspector inspect your playground can identify potential injury risks.

6. Does the playground equipment present a strangulation risk?

There should be nothing that would snag pieces of clothing, jewelry or strings. Slides should have a 21” entanglement free zone around them.

7. Are there any moving parts that could pinch a child?

Check for pinch points wherever a child can get their fingers into.

8. Is there anything that might cause a child to trip?

Surfaces should be smooth and level, with no tree stumps or roots.

9. Is the playground well maintained?

All hardware as well as the playground surface should be in good shape. Rust and other signs of deterioration may signal poor maintenance. Loose fill surfacing may need to be raked periodically under swings and at the exit of slides to maintain proper depth.

10. Has the playground been renovated since 1993?

Outdated playground equipment can be extremely dangerous. For example, during the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, heavy metal swings were commonplace on playgrounds. This equipment can act as a lethal battering ram, potentially injuring children who walk in front of them.