WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Compare the playgrounds of 25 years ago to today's
modern playsets and the differences are striking - metal has been
overtaken by colorful plastics and wood, homemade rope swings have been
replaced by rope ladders anchored for safety, and single-level
structures have been dwarfed by multi-tier castles. Yet with all the
advances in playground designs, there are still far too many playground
related injuries involving children - about 200,000 each year. In
recognizing National Playground Safety Week, the U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission is encouraging parents to make sure backyard,
childcare center and community playgrounds are safe and that children
are always supervised while at play.
To assist in building and maintaining a safe playground, designers,
inspectors and homeowners have been consulting CPSC's Handbook for
Public Playground Safety (pdf) for more than 25 years. The handbook
provides specifications for creating safe play zones; what materials to
use; and how to properly install climbing equipment, slides and swings.
CPSC staff is undertaking a major update of this publication to reflect
current safety standards and best practices. The new, updated Handbook
is targeted for re-release later this year.
To help prevent injuries from falls and other hazards on public and home
playgrounds, the following safety tips are recommended:
In addition to the Public Playground Handbook, CPSC also has an Outdoor
Home Playground Handbook (pdf), a Home Playground Safety Checklist (pdf)
(available in Spanish - pdf), and a Neighborhood Safety Network poster
(pdf) on playground safety.
- Never attach ropes, jump ropes, clotheslines, or pet leashes to the
equipment. This can present a serious strangulation hazard to children.
- Make sure children remove their bike or other sports helmets before
playing on the playground. Helmets can become entrapped in playground
equipment, posing a strangulation hazard.
- Purchase play equipment that meets the latest safety standards.
- Smooth sharp points or edges, and close open "S" hooks and cover
- Check for openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs. Spaces
should be either less than 3 1/2 inches or more than 9 inches so that
they don't present an entrapment hazard.
- Always supervise young children to make sure they are safe.
- Install and maintain at least 9 inches of wood chips, mulch, or
shredded rubber (for equipment up to 8 feet high) or sand or pea gravel
(for equipment no more than 5 feet high) as shock absorbing material
under the playground. (Dirt and grass, which are the most prevalent
surfaces under home playground equipment, do not adequately protect
children from serious head injuries.)
- Install protective surfacing at least six feet in all directions from
play equipment. For swings, the surface should extend, in back and
front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
For more information about National Playground Safety Week, visit the
Web site for the National Program for Playground Safety
To see this release on CPSC's web site, please go to: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07166.html
News | Toy News | Spring | Safety
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting
the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more
than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction.
Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents
cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed
to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire,
electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The
CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys,
cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals -
contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of
deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's
hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or
visit CPSC's web site at www.cpsc.gov/talk.html. To join a CPSC email
subscription list, please go to www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.asp. Consumers can
obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at