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Playground Safety



A well-planned playground with attention to safety is a great place for children to play.  Children benefit from getting exercise and developing balance, coordination and confidence.  Unfortunately the playground is a common place where children can get injured. Injuries happen at a playground a little less often than they do at home.  Falls from jungle gyms, monkey bars, swings or slides commonly cause injuries. According to the CDC, more than 156,000 children are treated each year for playground injuries.

Common Injuries

Playgrounds are filled with climbing, swinging and moving structures. Many injuries are limited to scrapes and bruises.  But, more serious injuries such as broken bones, concussions and strangulations can occur.

The most common type of injury from the playground is a fall from monkey bars.  This can result in a wrist, elbow or collarbone fracture.  Patients often report that they lost their grip and landed on a hard surface.  Falls also happen from swings, slides, seesaws and merry-go-rounds.  These injuries can cause broken bones and may need surgery.  Children wearing loose clothing or tie strings can get caught in the equipment as they fall.  Sometimes the loose clothing can cause the fall.

Sometimes parents want to go down the slide with their toddler.  The child’s foot can get caught underneath the adult’s leg causing a twisting injury. This can lead to a broken shinbone, which is known as a Toddler’s Fracture. Children can also get limbs caught between the moving parts of playground equipment.

Children can be hit by moving playground equipment like swings, seesaws or merry-go-rounds.



  • Supervision:  children should always be supervised by an adult while at the playground
  • Safe playground:
  • Pick a playground for your child that is appropriate for their age and size.
  • Make sure it is not too crowded.
  • Pick a playground with a thoughtful design with well-spaced equipment.
  • The playground should have a soft landing surface such as shredded rubber, mulch or sand.
  • Pick a playground that is appropriately fenced with a good view of the children
  • Check the maintenance of the equipment. If the swings are broken or the grips are worn, there may be other hazards as well.
  • Avoid equipment with small openings where a child could get their head stuck.
  • Swing seats should be made of lightweight plastic or rubber

How can you make your child safer at the playground?

  • Make sure your playground design and equipment complies with US Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines (specific playground guidelines are linked below)
  • Make sure that they have the right equipment for your child’s age and height
  • Avoid any equipment with sharp edges or mounted on hard surfaces
  • Be sure your child can be seen clearly from the entire playground
  • Make sure there are no tripping hazards within the play area.
  • Let them have fun!


Recreational Injuries in children:  Incidence and Prevention, Purvis JM, JAAOS, Nov/Dec 2001, vol 9 no 6 365-374

More Information

Q:  What should I look for before letting my child play on the playground?

Playgrounds are generally safe places to play.  They are designed for active children of different ages.  Caregivers should make sure the playground is right for their child before letting them play. 

The most common injury at a playground is a fall:
  • Monkeybars / Jungle Gym
    • Make sure they are the right height for your child
    • Make sure there is a soft landing surface (shredded rubber, mulch or sand are best)
  • Avoid a crowded play structure – injuries can happen if too many kids are playing at once, especially if they are a lot older than your child
  • Swings
    • Your child should not jump from the swing
    • Make sure there are no loose or broken pieces
    • There should be enough space around the swing

Q:  Are there ways to make the play at a playground safer for my child?

  • Direct adult supervision is the safest way for children of any age to play at the playground.
  • Teach your child to be mindful of other playing children. They should avoid walking close to active swings, slides or merry-go-rounds
  • Encourage your child to only use equipment that is right for their age and size
  • Avoid loose clothing, ties or scarves that might get caught in equipment

Q:  How do I know if my playground is safe and well maintained?

Public playground equipment must follow the guidelines published by the US Consumer Protection Safety Commission.  Your city will have a record of your public park’s maintenance schedule.