Preventing Accidental Injury.
KDHE Office of Communications
Topeka, Kan. —Spring is officially here, and a trip to the playground is an activity that both parents and kids enjoy. While the risks and dangers associated with swimming or riding a bike might seem more obvious, Safe Kids Kansas reminds parents to pay attention when their kids are playing on the playground. Active supervision and certain safety precautions are necessary to ensure their kids remain healthy and safe.
Each year, approximately 15 children die from injuries involving playground equipment and more than 200,000 are treated in emergency rooms in the United States. Falls account for 80 percent of playground injuries; however, most playground fatalities are caused by strangulation and tend to occur on home playgrounds, not on public property. In Kansas from 2005 to 2009, there were 158 hospital discharges for accidental falls from playground equipment among children 0-14 years old. Approximately 88 percent of all hospital discharges for accidental falls from playground equipment in this age group were to treat fractures. Another 9 percent were for treating injury to the internal organs.
“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 Cherie Sage, State Director for Safe Kids Kansas. “Playgrounds should be separate for children ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12 and they should have safe surfacing beneath and surrounding all playground equipment.”
Grass and soil are not good playground surfaces under climbing equipment and swings. On public playgrounds, over half of the injuries occur as a result of the child climbing on equipment and falling. “The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with energy-absorbing materials like shredded rubber, wood chips or sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment,” says Sage. “It won’t prevent falls, but it can prevent injuries or reduce their severity.”
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Handbook for Public Playground Safety provides guidelines for protective surfacing and age-appropriate playground equipment for children.
Parents and caregivers need to actively supervise kids on the playground. “Simply being in the same place as your child isn’t necessarily supervising,” says Sage. “Kids on a playground need your undivided attention.”
Safe Kids Kansas also reminds parents and caregivers to:
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) handbook is available at www.cpsc.gov or 800-638-2772. For more information about playground safety, call Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-0351, or visit www.safekids.org.
Visit us at www.safekidskansas.org and on Facebook.