The dirty dozen: Are they hiding in your child's playground?

In the time it will take you to read this pamphlet a child will be severely injured and admitted to an emergency room as a result of a playground-related accident. It is estimated that each year over 170,000 such injuries occur. Approximately twenty children will die from playground related injuries.

The National Playground Safety Institute (NSPI) has identified twelve of the leading causes of injury on playgrounds. By familiarizing yourself with the 'Dirty Dozen Checklist' you can inspect your local playground to see how safe it is. As parents and caregivers, we are responsible for providing safe play opportunities for our children. Should you identify any of the following hazards on your child's playground, notify the owner/operator of the play area of the condition so that they may take steps to eliminate the hazard.

The Dirty Dozen Checklist

Are they hiding in your child's playground?


1. Improper Protective Surfacing

The surface or ground under and around the playground equipment should be soft enough to cushion a fall. Improper surfacing material under playground equipment is the leading cause of playground related injuries. Over seventy percent of all accidents on playgrounds are from children falling. Hard surfaces such as concrete, blacktop, packed earth or grass are not acceptable under play equipment. A fall onto one of these hard surfaces could be life threatening.

There are many surfaces that offer protection from falls. Acceptable surfaces are hardwood fiber/mulch, sand, and pea gravel. These surfaces must be maintained at a depth of twelve inches, be free of standing water and debris, and not be allowed to become compacted. There are also synthetic or rubber tiles and mats that are appropriate for use under play equipment.

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