Safe Kids Kansas

Preventing Accidental Injury.

June 23, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Play It Safe on the Playground

Safe Kids Kansas Warns: Playground Surfaces Are Critical

Each year, approximately 15 children die from injuries involving playground equipment, and more than 200,000 are treated in emergency rooms. Falls account for 80 percent of playground injuries; however, most playground fatalities are caused by strangulation which tend to occur in a family’s yard, not on public property.

“Nothing can take the place of active supervision, but we do need to make sure our kids are playing in safe environments in the first place,” says Jan Stegelman, Safe Kids Kansas coordinator. “Playground equipment should be labeled with a minimum age, and it should be surrounded by a protective surface.” This year marks the 27th anniversary of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Handbook for Public Playground Safety , which provides guidelines for protective surfacing and age-appropriate playground equipment for children. The CPSC handbook is available at or 800- 638-2772.

Grass and soil are not good playground surfaces. “The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with shredded rubber, hardwood fiber mulch, pea gravel, or fine sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment,” says Stegelman. “It won’t prevent falls, but it can prevent injuries or reduce their severity.”

Even nonfatal injuries from playground falls can be very serious. “A child who falls about 5 feet is four times as likely to be injured as a child who falls from a lower height. Also, a child who falls onto a hard surface such as asphalt or concrete is more than twice as likely of suffering an injury than a child falling onto an impact-absorbing surface,” says Stegelman .

Parents and caregivers need to keep kids in sight and in reach on the playground. “Simply being in the same place as your child isn’t necessarily supervising,” says Stegelman. “Kids on a playground need your undivided attention.”

Safe Kids Kansas also reminds parents and caregivers to:

For more information about playground safety, visit

Safe Kids Kansas, Inc. is a nonprofit Coalition of 67 statewide organizations and businesses dedicated to preventing accidental injuries to Kansas children ages 0-14. Local coalitions and chapters are located in Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Clay, Coffey, Dickinson, Doniphan, Douglas, Elk, Ellis, Finney, Ford, Franklin, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Labette, Leavenworth, Marion, Marshall, McPherson, Meade, Mitchell, Montgomery, Osage, Pottawatomie, Republic, Rice, Riley, Saline, Smith, Shawnee, Wilson and Woodson Counties, as well as the cities of Chanute, Emporia, Leavenworth, Pittsburg, the Wichita Area and the Metro Kansas City Area. Safe Kids Kansas a member of Safe Kids Worldwide , a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury. The lead agency for Safe Kids Kansas is the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.