Make Sure Your Playground Meets National Safety Standards

Playgrounds are fun for kids but each year 200,000 children are treated in hospital emergency departments for playground-related injuries. Learn how to make sure your playground meets national safety standards. Check that the equipment is appropriate for the age of the children using it and that surfacing is at least 12 inches deep and made of wood chips, pea gravel, double-shredded mulch or sand. Ensure that any spaces that could trap hands, arms or legs are closed and that drawstrings are removed from clothing.

Safety Surfaces

Kids play and aren’t always aware of their physical limitations. This means they will fall from time to time. The right safety surface will absorb the impact of those falls and can make them less serious. The area under and around playground equipment should be covered with a soft material that can cushion a child if they fall. Some acceptable options include shredded/recycled rubber, engineered wood fiber and pea gravel. Concrete, asphalt and packed dirt should be avoided as they provide the least amount of shock absorption.

Unitary surfacing, such as poured-in-place rubber or bond-in-place rubber, can be more expensive up front than loose-fill surfacing but can offer lower maintenance costs over the life of your playground. They also guarantee accessibility for children in wheelchairs.


While playgrounds offer a fun place to spend time with kids, they can be dangerous if not properly designed and maintained. A daily inspection can ensure that the equipment is functioning correctly and avoiding potential hazards. Guardrails can help prevent children from falling off of equipment. They should be at least 29″ tall with a lower clearance opening no higher than 23″. Any platform that is over 20″ high requires a top guardrail. Ensure that all safety surfaces around your equipment are properly maintained and have been tested to meet the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Public 안전놀이터 Handbook.

Check for equipment with protrusions or sharp edges that could cut a child or catch clothing or drawstrings, which can lead to strangulation. Strangulation is a common cause of death on playgrounds. Make sure that the ground surfaces around equipment are covered with at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or safety-tested rubber mats and are free from exposed concrete footings, rocks or tree stumps.


Overhead ladders are a fun way to build upper body strength in your playground. These classic climbing structures feature a variety of rungs, each spaced differently, to create unique challenges for kids. We also offer zig-zag and serpentine ladders for added excitement. Remind children to follow all equipment rules, including taking turns and not overcrowding pieces of equipment. They should not jump from unsafe heights, wear hoodies or clothes with drawstrings (which can lead to strangulation) or eat on the equipment. Your Landscape Structures playground consultant can help you with this. You should also request documentation to show that your safety surfacing meets requirements for your site and local standards.

Safety Seats

Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment offer kids fresh air, friends, exercise and fun. However, faulty equipment and unsafe behavior cause more than 200,000 children 14 years of age or younger to be treated at hospital emergency departments each year for injuries that could be prevented with careful supervision.

Safety seats provide a measure of protection for kids during falls from playground equipment. During recent NHTSA compliance tests, booster and shield-booster seat types provided significantly better head injury predictions than tetherless full-shield and tetherd belt-around seats. Adults must supervise children at all times, particularly in outdoor play areas and on playground equipment. They should also check the playground regularly for potential hazards, such as protruding screws or bolts and open “S” hooks that can entangle children’s clothing and strangle them.


A drawstring on a shirt, jacket or cap can catch in equipment and strangle a child. Avoid clothes with drawstrings and leave purses and necklaces at home. Strangulation is a leading cause of playground deaths. Clothes with loose hoods and sleeves, costume capes, untied shoes or backpacks can also present a risk.

Kids need challenging and safe challenges to develop into well-balanced adults. Ensure that your playground equipment is appropriate for children’s age groups and that you clearly post the recommended ages for each piece of equipment. Watch children closely when they are climbing, swinging and sliding to prevent falls and head injuries. Also check for protruding bolt ends, “S” hooks and sharp points or edges on equipment. Also, avoid playing on equipment that is too hot to touch.

More Words

As spring brings warmer weather and kids head outside for more playground fun, it’s important to be aware of safety concerns. Parents, grandparents, teachers and babysitters should regularly check playground equipment and report any hazards to the person in charge.

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