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Safety Concerns About Playground Equipment

Even with modern improvements, are playgrounds safe?

Although playgrounds have changed a great deal during the past 50 years, with most of the changes made to ensure greater safer for the children who visit them, there are still, according to The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s most recent research, approximately 200,000 children under the age of 14 treated in hospital emergency rooms as a result of playground accidents. While many accidents are simply the result of using equipment improperly or losing one’s balance, a certain number of playground accidents, most of which occur at schools or daycare centers, are associated with faulty or poorly maintained equipment, or with lack of proper supervision.

If your child has suffered a serious injury at a playground and you believe it was caused by defective equipment or negligence, you should contact a dedicated and skilled personal injury attorney promptly to find out whether you can be compensated according to premises liability or personal injury laws.

About 45 percent of playground injuries are severe: concussions, dislocations, fractures, internal injuries, and even amputations. A small percentage of playground accidents even result in death. Generally, the most dangerous equipment seems to be climbing apparatus and the most common injuries are due to falls. More than half of playground deaths, however, involve accidental strangulations from ropes, shoestrings, cords, sashes, and leashes.

Risk Factors for Playground Injuries

There are several variables in statistics relating to playground injuries. Surprising though it may be to some, girls sustain more playground injuries than boys (55 percent to 45 percent, respectively). Children at the highest risk are those between 5 and 9 years of age. One of the most discouraging statistics is one that is not unexpected — low-income urban areas have more maintenance-related injuries than do high-income areas since the former tend to have more slippery trash around and more rusty or broken equipment.

Improvements Have Helped

Although we all wish we could eradicate childhood accidents entirely, some of the measures that have been taken in recent decades have decreased the severity of injuries, if not the number of falls. For one thing, the formerly hard cement ground surface in a great many playgrounds has been replaced with softer, more flexible material. For another, heavy duty plastic and rubber have been used in newer slides, climbing devices, and swings, providing fewer sharp surfaces, softer impact, and no rust. Also, plastic equipment does not get as hot as metal in the summer heat.

Suggestions to Keep Your Child Safer

While all healthy, active children are going to have some bruises, bumps and scrapes, the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that parents check the following to keep their children as safe as possible:

  • Make sure children are always supervised while on playground equipment
  • Make sure there is protective, flexible surface, like shredded/recycled rubber underfoot
  • Make sure that protective surfacing extends 6 feet in all directions from play area especially in front and back of swings
  • Make sure playground equipment is well-maintained
  • Make sure any sharp edges are removed, missing hardware replaced, and that all S-shaped hooks are closed
  • Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, pet leashes or cords of any kind to equipment since any of these may result in accidental strangulation

We all know that no matter how many protective steps we take, our children will sometimes suffer injuries on the playground. If your child has the misfortune to be seriously hurt in a playground accident, the first thing you have to do is get the child immediate medical care. Once your child is safe, you should consider whether the accident could have been prevented if the playground had safer or better-maintained equipment. If so, you should consult with an experienced personal injury and premises liability attorney to receive compensation for medical bills (present and future) and for your child’s pain and suffering.

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