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Playground Safety

Courtesy Of Safe Kids Canada

Fact Sheet 
* Injuries on playground equipment are a serious health problem in Canada.
* Most playground injuries are predictable and preventable.
* Strangulation is the most common cause of playground death. It is responsible for 16 deaths in Canada since 1982. Strangulation is due to clothing, drawstrings or skipping ropes getting caught on playground equipment and on fences in the play area.(1) The next most common causes of death are head injuries, falls, collapse of equipment, colliding with moving equipment and running into equipment.
* According to the CHIRPP* database, 53,619 children under the age of 15 have been injured on playgrounds between April 1990 and August 1995, which resulted in 2,949 hospital admissions. Of those injuries, many involved playground equipment, 62% occurred in school yards and day care/preschool yards, and 38% occurred in public parks. (2)
* Playground injuries occur among children of all ages, with the highest rate of injury occurring among 5 to 9 year olds. Boys are somewhat more likely to be injured than to girls. (2)
* Playground injuries mostly occur on climbers, swings and slides (2)
* Falls are the main cause of playground injuries. The type of surface under the playground equipment and the height of the equipment are important factors in reducing the risk of injuries.
* Poorly designed and/or maintained playground equipment contribute to playground injuries. Children who practice unsafe behaviour and the lack of adult supervision add to the risk of playground injuries.

* Always take off, tie up or tuck in cords and drawstrings on children's clothing. Loose clothing, drawstrings on hoods, mitten cords and scarves can get caught on playground equipment and strangle a child. (1)
* Discourage children from bringing skipping ropes onto the playground. Children tend to attach skipping ropes to playground equipment which could result in fatal strangulation.
* Impact absorbing surfaces under playground equipment such as sand, pea gravel, wood chips at depths of 15-30 cm (0.5-1ft.) or synthetic materials, are advised for all equipment over 450 mm (1.5ft.) in height. 
* Make sure pre-school children are not using equipment beyond their physical development. Parents should actively supervise their pre-school children to ensure that they are using the playground equipment properly.
* Check that children are sitting, not standing on a swing. Children should not get off a swing while it is moving.
* Make sure that children go down a slide feet first and get out of the way of the next person. Children should not run up a slide as this increases their chances of falling.
* The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has developed technical guidelines for public playgrounds. Make sure that your playground meets the safety guidelines by asking your local park operator.
* Report any broken or unsafe equipment, poor surfacing under and around equipment or maintenance concerns to your local park operator. Encourage children to report broken glass or needles to an adult. 

For further information on playground safety, or to get a free copy of the SAFE KIDS Canada playground checklist, contact your local SAFE KIDS affiliate or the CSA at 416-747-2496.
For a copy of the CSA Guidelines, call 1-800- 463-6727.

1. Health Canada, Product Safety Branch Playground Report 1982-1995.
2. CHIRPP Playground Search: April 1990 - Summer 1995.
* The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP ) database consists of injury data on children seen at 15 hospitals across Canada.

A special thanks to the following members of the playground committee who contributed their expertise in playground injury: Carol Beringer, SAFE KIDS Calgary, Jean-Guy Demoré, Northeastern Ontario SAFE KIDS Coalition, Dr. Sande Harlos, Winnipeg SAFE KIDS, Dominique Lesage, Montreal Public Health Unit, Michael Lowing, Yellowknife Fire Department, Kevin Mackenzie, Canadian Standards Association (CSA), and Malak Sidky, SAFE KIDS Canada.

For more information please call 1-888 SAFE TIPS

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