Children and playgrounds go together like chocolate and milk. Drop by any playground this spring and summer and you are bound to find dozens of active kids swinging, sliding, climbing and having a good time.

Yet a good time on the community or school playground can be ruined by a fall, entrapment, cut or another type of injury. Each year, about 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries related to playground equipment.

During National Playground Safety Week (April 21-25), CPSC staff is releasing an update to the popular Handbook for Public Playground Safety (PDF), which contains guidance for childcare personnel, school officials, designers, inspectors, parents and school groups on building safer playgrounds. Considered by many to be the model handbook of playground safety, the agency’s guidelines for public playgrounds have been incorporated by many municipalities into local and state building codes. The handbook provides specifications for creating safer play zones and avoiding hazards with equipment such as sharp points, entrapments, and entanglements.

The updated Handbook for Public Playground Safety contains new guidelines from CPSC staff for playground equipment for children as young as six months old, track and log rolls for older children, and playground surfacing, as well as suggestions on protecting children from sun exposure on playgrounds.

CPSC offers the following tips to help prevent injuries and other hazards on public and home playgrounds:

The Commission provides these important life-saving tips:

  • Always supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.
  • Purchase playground equipment that meets the latest safety standards.
  • Maintain at least 9 inches of protective surfacing, including shredded/recycled rubber, wood chips, wood mulch (non-CCA treated), sand or pea gravel under and around playground equipment to cushion children from falls.
  • Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, extend protective surfacing in front and back of the swing, twice the height of the suspending bar.
  • Repair sharp points or edges on equipment. Replace missing hardware and close “S” hooks that can cause injuries.
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes or cords of any kind to play equipment due to the strangulation hazard.

Courtesy of US Consumer Public Safety Commission