Each year, more than 200,000 children under the age of 15 are sent to the emergency room for playground injuries. About 75% of these nonfatal injuries occur at public playgrounds, which include schools and daycare centers.
Common Playground Injuries
The largest age group needing emergency room visits are children from age five to nine; these injuries mostly occurred at school playgrounds. The school equipment causing the most injuries is climbing apparatus. (Note to parents: A majority of playground fatalities (70%) occur on home playgrounds, and swings cause the most serious home injuries.)
Overall, about 40% of all injuries, public or home, are fractures. Nearly 80% of those were breaks in the wrist, lower arm, or elbow.
More than half (53%) of injuries on public playground equipment occur on climbers. The majority of those accidents happen on apparatus with various configurations of overhead horizontal ladders.
What Can Parents Do?
Many of the older, unsafe play apparatus are gone from public playgrounds now, and most playgrounds should have replaced the old concrete or grass surfaces with loose fill (wood chips, sand, pea gravel, mulch) or surfaces made of rubber.
And yet, 80% of emergency room visits from public playgrounds occurred on equipment with proper surfacing. So accidents can and do happen. Is there anything that parents can do?
Experts offer these tips:
- Teach your children to use equipment properly and warn them not to push each other on jungle gyms, or equipment high above the ground.
- Check your child’s clothes for dangling items that can get caught. Look for cords, drawstrings, long scarves, mitten connectors, necklaces, or purses.
- Be sure your school’s playground does have the proper type of protective fill or surface.
Physical activity is vital for children. They need this time to physically rejuvenate themselves; to exercise their muscles and breathe deeply. As your children grow, provide opportunities for them to test and develop their climbing, balance, and coordination skills.