Play Together. Play Smart. Play S.A.F.E.™

Playgrounds and outdoor play spaces are meant to be safe places for exploration and free play. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. 

Playground injuries are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury to children:

  • 75% of playground injuries require an emergency room visit for children ages 5-12.
  • 154,292 children ages 5 to 12 made trips to the emergency room each year because of playground injuries.
  • 8 children die in playground-related injuries each year. (CPSC, 2018) 

By using our tips and tools — like our Kid Checker Worksheet and Playground Report Card — built from the SAFE Model for Playground Safety, these injuries can be eliminated.


Here are 8 action steps for protecting children:



1. Always supervise children when they play.Supervision

 Adult supervision is essential to playground safety and requires more than just being present. Positive supervision involves paying attention to hazardous situations, supporting and guiding play, responding to emergencies, and managing a healthy play environment.





2. Remove Potential Entanglement Hazards 

Jacket Bin example

Most playground-related deaths are the result of strangulation, remove bike helmets and strings from children’s clothing. Also, ensure equipment is secured at both ends to prevent entanglement.







3.  Check the temperature of equipment and surfacing material.

Check for hot surfaces on playground equipment and fall surfacing before allowing children to play. If shade structures do not protect from the sun, the surface can become extremely hot and can even cause burns on the skin. 


child on slide4.  Children should go down slides on their own. 

Many playground injuries, especially fractures, are caused when an adult holds a child on their lap. We recommend adults never hold children on one's lap when going down the slide.





5.  Children should only play on equipment that has proper surfacing material installed under and around the equipment.  

Nearly 70 percent of all playground injuries are related to children falling. Acceptable surfaces are either loose-fill or unitary.  Loose fill surfacing materials include certified wood products, shredded rubber, sand, and pea gravel. Unitary surfaces include  poured-in-place rubber, rubber mats or rubber tiles. Playground equipment should never be installed over concrete, asphalt, grass, blacktop, or packed dirt, as they do not provide cushion to protect a child.


6.  Ensure the equipment is safeChecking equipment before use

Make sure playground equipment is in good working order — anchored safely in the ground, closed S-hooks, flush bolts, hidden footings, and free of rust, splinters, and missing parts.






7. Children play on age appropriate equipment.

Equipment should be be designed and separated for children ages 6 -23 months; 2-5 years of age, and 5-12 years of age.


8.  Limit sun exposure.Shade at a play space

Weather that poses a significant health risk includes temperatures ranging from a wind-chill factor at or below -15˚F and heat index at or above 90˚F, as identified by the National Weather Service. Use sunscreen (even on cloudy days) and wear UVA and UVB protective clothing and sunglasses.




Dangerous Molded Animal Swings9. Remove Animal Swings from Playgrounds

In 1995, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled heavy molded animal swings.



Hanway, S. (2016). Injuries and Investigated Deaths Associated with Playground Equipment, 2009-2014. Consumer Product Safety Commission.