Playground Safety

What is the problem?

Playground Injuries

  • About 45 percent of playground-related injuries are severe, which include fractures, internal injuries, concussions and dislocations.
  • Among children ages 4 and under, most traumatic brain injuries occurred on the playground.
  • It is estimated that more than one-third (36 percent) of playground-related injuries treated in emergency departments are fractures.
  • It is estimated that one-third of playground deaths and 51 percent of playground injuries occur on public playgrounds.



  • Decreasing the height of playground equipment and using protective surfaces on the playground (energy absorbing materials such as shredded rubber, wood chips, wood fiber and sand) can reduce injuries related to falls. Both have shown to markedly reduce injury risk to children.
  • Playground equipment guidelines and standards have been developed by the CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Sixteen states have enacted all or parts of the CPSC or ASTM playground safety legislation.
  • The CPSC has issued voluntary guidelines for the drawstrings of children's upper outerwear garments, such as jackets and sweatshirts. The guidelines help to prevent strangulation from the neck drawstrings and entanglement of the waist drawstrings. Children are at risk from strangulation when drawstrings on clothing become entangled in playground equipment.


Playground Safety Checklist

  1. Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or are mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
  2. Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open "S" hooks or protruding bolt ends.
  5. Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  6. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  7. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
  9. Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition.
  10. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they're safe.