Transforming the Playground into a Safeground

While the playground offers both fun and physical activity, more than 200,000 children are injured on America’s playgrounds each year. That’s one child injured every 2-1/2 minutes. But, there are a few things you can do to make your child’s playground a safeground.


It is just as important to monitor your own child’s safety as it is to monitor the behavior of the other kids around them. Stay close to your kids and help to teach them appropriate playground etiquette. “Not only are you teaching good behavior, but you are also giving a lesson on playground safety,” says Surman. She adds that you should teach your children to take turns going down the slide, and make sure all children are clear from the bottom before another child proceeds. Avoid walking up the slide, your child could fall or collide with another child as they slide down. Take turns on the swings and don’t allow pushing, shoving or pulling off of the equipment.

Proper clothing

Make sure that your children remove any jewelry, scarves, purses or shirts with drawstrings or hoods. These clothing items can become entangled on the playground equipment and cause strangulation. It is estimated that half of the playground related deaths occur from this type of accident. It is also important to plan for proper footwear. Flip flops and loose fitting sandals can easily slip off sending kids off balance and at risk for falls.


Visually inspect the play equipment for hidden dangers. Make sure the structure is anchored safely into the ground, so that there are no exposed, rusted or sharp bolts or edges and the hooks that secure swings are entirely closed.  It is important to take into account weather related variables. “Feel the slide and swings with your own hand first to make sure they are not too hot to the touch,” says Surman.  After it rains, avoid using wet equipment and be on the lookout for standing water. Both can create a potential for slip and fall accidents.

Age-appropriate playing

Make sure your children are playing on equipment that is age appropriate.  Newly built playgrounds will have the recommended ages posted on the play structure. Special considerations such as height, spacing in between bars and handrails are also important.


Nearly 70 percent of all playground injuries are related to falling, according to the National Program for Playground Safety. Head, wrist and elbow fractures are most common. More serious cases include strangulation, internal bleeding and head injury, such as concussion. Surman recommends that play structures surrounded by a softer surface that can better absorb falls. The ideal surfaces include: mulch, wood chips, pea gravel, sand, chipped rubber, rubber mats or tiles.

Once your playground is a safeground, you can relax and enjoy watching your kids having fun!

–Erica Surman, R.N., Pediatric Trauma Coordinator

2 Responses to “Transforming the Playground into a Safeground”

  1. 1 Anonymous September 7, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Great tips! Flip flops, jewelry and hoods…had not even considered them to be a safety risk. Thanks for the reminders, Erica!

  2. 2 Erica Surman September 8, 2011 at 11:43 am

    You’re welcome! The flip flops were a trial by error…by myself!

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