A playground is a wonderful place for children and parents to have fun, get exercise, and socialize. It is also one of the primary places where children can get hurt. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are over 200,000 playground injuries each year that require emergency room treatment. These injuries can be catastrophic and lead to permanent injuries. The following are five tips to consider about the relative safety of your playground. Further information can be found in the CPSC’s Public Playground Safety Handbook.
- Check the equipment. You need to consider the type of equipment, the material it is made of and the condition of the equipment. Is the equipment age appropriate for the child? For example, it could pose a risk if it is very tall for certain ages, exposing children to steep falls. In other circumstances, playground equipment can be too small for older children. Finally, it could be damaged due to rot, rust, or failure to repair.
- Look at the playground’s surface. In some circumstances, it is not the equipment that directly poses the harm, but the surface around the equipment. For example, if the playground equipment makes children prone to landing on the surface, such as an inflatable jumping pillow or a trampoline, the resulting impact with the surface could cause injury if the surface is not designed to absorb shocks. If the surface is very hard, such as concrete or even grass, and the equipment propels the child onto the surface with sufficient force, injuries can occur. But if the surface can absorb shock; for example, if it has some give to it such as with sand, wood chips or rubber mats – injuries are less likely to occur.
- Observe children in addition to your own. At times, the problem at the playground isn’t the equipment, but who is using it. Children can be injured inadvertently by other children in countless ways, from everything as simple as just running into one another, to playing roughly with each other. Children can also injure one another when they use equipment that is meant for one child at a time, such as a slide.
- Assess the location and boundaries. The location of a park and its boundaries are important to consider in assessing the relative safety of the playground. Playgrounds should be enclosed with fencing, particularly if the playground is in a high-traffic area and intended for young children. Enclosures protect the child by establishing the limits of the playground and keep the child from the dangers of cars, bicycles, and other potential harm while they play.
- Supervision is key. Supervision at playgrounds is needed, but it is not always clear who, if anyone, is supervising the children. Typically, supervision would fall under a parent / relative, or a teacher if at school, but you cannot be sure the playground itself has anyone present to supervise the children, or that another parent is properly supervising. In addition, some playground equipment requires adult supervision. If a child uses the equipment without supervision, injuries can occur.
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one suffers an injury, feel free to contact the attorneys at Decof, Barry, Mega & Quinn, P.C. to discuss your case. They have decades of experience reaching successful results for injured persons and their families in a broad range of personal injury cases, including for injuries that occurred at playgrounds.