The playground is a wonderful place – one that sets the stage for a child’s positive social and intellectual growth. An often idyllic setting, it creates the back drop for many a fond childhood memory. However, playgrounds can also be full of hazards. Each year, approximately 200,000 injuries and 15 deaths occur on the playground due to faulty equipment or inadequate fall zones. Vanguard Resources’ safety experts recommend checking these factors before setting your little one loose on the playground:
- Swing seats should be made of soft materials, not wood or metal.
- Younger children should use only full-bucket seats.
- Each swing set framework should have only two swings and be securely anchored.
- Swings should be at least eight inches apart; the farther apart, the better.
- Clearance under the swing should be at least eight inches.
- Make sure the slide and handrails are securely anchored.
- Steps should have good traction to avoid slips and falls.
- There should be no gap between the slide and platform.
- Seesaws should have something underneath the seat to prevent it from hitting the ground.
- Be cautious of adjustable seesaws with chains at the fulcrum. The chains can crush a child’s hands.
- Be sure that the equipment is level and that the gripping devices are securely anchored.
- Be sure the equipment is age-appropriate for your child. Proper use requires significant upper body strength. Younger children may not be capable of stabilizing themselves.
- Check to make sure steps and handrails are securely anchored.
- Make sure the fall zone is appropriate for the inevitable slips and falls.
- Concrete asphalt, grass, and dirt are too hard for fall zone areas. Use “loose fill” items such as wood chips, bark mulch, wood fibers, sand, pea gravel, or rubberized mats.
- Fall zones should extend at least six feet beyond the outer edge of stationary equipment’s support structure, and be at least twice the height of the swing, when measured from the ground to the framework’s swing hanger
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