OHSU

Playgrounds

Each year, almost a quarter million children go to the emergency department because of injuries they received while playing on playground equipment. Many of these injuries occur when children slip, lose their grip or lose their balance while playing. These injuries may be prevented if the equipment is maintained, there is sufficient supervision and children are taught how to properly use the equipment.

Safety Tips

Playground equipment:

  • Equipment should be inspected on a regular basis.
  • Each item should be no more than six-feet high and securely anchored.
  • Equipment should be spaced eight feet apart.
  • Equipment should not have sharp edges or protrusions. Openings should be three-and-a-half inches or smaller to prevent head entrapment. 
  • Playgrounds should include equipment designed for pre-school-aged children (2-5) and equipment designed for school-aged children (5-12). These areas should be marked and separated from each other.

Supervision:

  • Always have an adult present to supervise children on playgrounds.
  • Remove debris from the area.
  •  Review safe play with children to prevent injuries and promote safe behavior on the playground.
  • Enforce the rules: don’t push or shove; take turns; sit before you slide; never walk near moving swings; and never use equipment when it’s wet or icy.

Falls:

  • Use impact-absorbing material under both outdoor and indoor play equipment. Safety surfaces include wood chips, rubber surfacing, sand, mulch or uniform pea gravel.
  • The material should be 10- to 12-inches thick and extend for six feet on all sides of the equipment.

Slide safety:

  • A bar or panel should be at the top of the slide so there is something to hold onto while sitting down to slide.
  • The slide should be angled at 30 degrees or less.
  • Encourage your child to hold onto rails when climbing to the top.
  • Make sure there are no loose strings on clothing, to prevent strangulation.
  • Keep shoes tied to prevent the laces from getting caught.
  • Your child should always sit down feet first.
  • Make sure no one else is on the slide.
  • Do not allow your child to run up the slide.

Swing safety:

  • Place top hangers slightly wider than the seat to prevent side-to-side motion.
  • Have no more than two swings per bay.
  • Use lightweight swing seats made of soft materials.
  • Remind your child:
    • Sit in the center of the swing.
    • Don’t walk or run in front or back of the swings.
    • Never stand on a swing.
    • Don’t swing too high.
    • Don’t get off the swing until it has completely stopped.

Jungle gym, climber, monkey bars safety:

  • Place the rings between 9- to 15-inches apart to prevent a child’s head from becoming trapped.
  • Be sure handrails and climbing bars measure 1- to 1.67 inches in diameter.
  • Remind your child:
    • Don’t play on the equipment if they’re too small to reach the bars.
    • Always hold on with two hands.
    • Never climb or sit on top of the bars.

Seesaw safety:

  • Remind your child:
    • Always sit facing each other.
    • Hold on with both hands.
    • Keep hands and feet from getting under the board.
    • Always warn the other person before getting off.

Trampoline safety:

An unsupervised trampoline is dangerous to children, and serious injuries can result from the use of a trampoline. The majority of these injuries are fractures, dislocations and sprains in the head and neck areas and upper and lower extremities.

  • Give your child proper instruction on how to use a trampoline.
  • Use a safety harness to help reduce injuries.
  • Tell your child to avoid somersaults, which have a high potential for serious injury.
  • Allow only one person on the trampoline at a time.

 

For more information:

503 418-5666
safety@ohsu.edu

Location:

Doernbecher Children's Hospital Lobby
700 SW Campus Drive Portland, OR 97239

Frog

Boy at Doernbecher playground