Playground Safety

Each year, more than 200,000 children are injured on America’s playgrounds. That’s one every 2½ minutes.

The leading cause of playground equipment-related fatalities is strangulation. Strangulation as a result of entanglement or entrapment accounts for nearly half of the deaths. The majority of these deaths occur on home playgrounds.

Lack of supervision is associated with 40 percent of playground injuries.

  • The best way to prevent injuries on playgrounds is close supervision.
  • Falls are the No. 1 injury children get while playing on playgrounds.
  • Strangulations can also occur while a child is on a playground.
    • Avoid loose hanging ropes.  They are a strangulation risk.  A rope should be secured at both ends.
    • Never let your child wear helmets, necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings while on a playground.
  • Teach your child the rules of the playground, including:
    • Never walk in front of a person swinging.
    • Go down the slide the right way, never backwards or head first.
  • Before using playground equipment, make sure the metal surfaces are not too hot. They can cause serious burns if a child touches them. 
  • If your home has a playground, make sure to:
    • Install according to the manufacturer’s instructions and pay careful attention to anchoring (to prevent the playground set from falling over)
    • Install surfacing under your playground to help soften the impact of falls and prevent serious injuries.  Good surfaces include:
      • Rubber
      • Sand
      • Sawdust (12 inches deep)
      • Wood chip
      • Bark
    • Install the playground at least 6 feet away from fences or walls
  • Asphalt, dirt, concrete and grass are not acceptable surfaces to place underneath playground equipment.
  • A one-foot fall onto concrete could cause a concussion.

If you see something unsafe while at a playground, notify the local agency, organization or school in charge to make it aware so it can fix the problem. 


Last Updated 09/2012