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Keeping children safe from playgrounds hazards

By Cathy Brannon | | April 22, 2010

National Playground Safety Week, Monday through April 30, is recognized as a way to ensure children are safe whether they play indoors or outdoors.

Playground safety is a concept that every parent and child caregiver should become familiar with.

The National Playground Safety Institute recognizes that some hazards are related to equipment, environment and a lack of child supervision.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.CPSC.gov, more than 200,000 children are hurt from playground hazards each year and some visit the emergency room with injuries from playground equipment.

Listed below are common playground hazards identified by NPSI.

No Fall Zone: A fall zone is an unobstructed space located under and around playground equipment. Playground equipment must have at least six feet of unobstructed space on all sides to help protect children during a fall.

Choking and entanglement hazards: Children should not wear necklaces or clothing with drawstrings that may snag or choke them while playing on equipment. All edges of playground equipment should be non-snagging, dull and have rounded edges.

Broken or missing rails: Railings should be on open platforms to protect children from falling off and getting seriously injured.

Overcrowding of equipment: All playground equipment must be at least six feet apart, which covers the fall zone, but further apart is better. Children should climb, slide and/or cross play equipment one at a time to keep from pushing and/or hurting other children.

Trip hazards: Broken pieces of equipment, cracked sidewalks, concrete, wood and ripped groundcovers can all become trip hazards. A trip can be as harmful as a fall.

Sharp, rough or pinching edges: Any surface that is not smooth, free of hard sharp edges, splinters and breaks can be a cutting hazard. Types of things that can pinch are see-saws, spring riding animals, swing chains and gates.

Poor maintenance: Trained individuals should perform a full playground safety check each year for quality maintenance.

Banned equipment: Just because playground equipment has been deemed a hazard or recalled in recent years doesn’t mean it’s all been removed. Unsafe equipment to watch for includes: Heavy swings, animal swings, climbing ropes, swinging rings, trapeze bars and monkey bars.

Supervision: As an adult, it’s the parent or supervisor’s responsibility to always be aware of what the children are doing. Children don’t always know what equipment is appropriate for their age. Supervisors and/or caregivers should inspect and feel metal or plastic surfaces to ensure it’s not hot before letting children play on it.

If broken playground equipment or any other playground hazards are discovered aboard base, call Marine Corps Community Service safety officer at (229) 639-7259.

If an injury occurs, call MCCS and Risk Management at (229) 639-7048 to report the injury, the condition of the play area at the time and any factors that may have been related to the incident.