Danger Zone: 10 Signs That a Playground Isn't Safe


What if 200,000 adults went to the emergency room each year for injuries received on poorly designed golf courses? The public outcry would be huge.

When the 200,000 people injured are children and the settings are playgrounds, the problem is largely ignored. Fortunately, the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) at the University of Northern Iowa aims to change that.
Learn the 10 signs that a playground isn't safe. 



  1. Dirt, grass or cement surrounds playground equipment. Safe surfaces include wood chips, sand, pea gravel or rubberized mats. Loose fill material should be 12 inches deep.
  2. The area is crowded with equipment. Most stationary equipment needs a six-foot "safe zone" in all directions.
  3. Guardrails and ladder rungs are improperly spaced. Openings should be smaller than 3.5 inches or larger than 9 inches to prevent trapping children.
  4. Guardrails are missing. Guardrails should surround all elevated platforms and be at least 29 inches high for preschool-age children and 38 inches for school-age children.
  5. Concrete footings are exposed. Children can easily trip on footings, tree roots and rocks.
  6. Equipment has sharp edges and dangerous hardware. For example, "S" hooks should be completely closed and bolts should not protrude.
  7. Preschoolers play on elementary school equipment. Stay within age-appropriate play areas.
  8. Equipment is rundown. Contact the school principal or park director to report a maintenance problem.
  9. Children wear hooded sweatshirts or clothes with drawstrings. These items can get caught on equipment.
  10. Adults aren't watching. Always supervise children on a playground and keep moving to maintain visual contact with them.

Source: National Safety Council, nsc.org

Play It Safe

To learn how your state ranks in play-ground safety, visit the National Program for Playground Safety Web site at uni.edu/playground/ or call 800-554-PLAY. If your child gets hurt while playing, you can be assured that the highly skilled doctors in our Children's Emergency Department at GMC-Lawrenceville can help your kids heal and get back to doing what the love. 

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