Swings, slides and climbing equipment capture children’s imaginations while they are at a playground, but if you are a parent or guardian, playground safety is everything. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) publishes safety information for public playground sites, designed to minimize the risks and incidences of playground-related injuries. The information is based on safety standards that involve everything from age restrictions to surfacing guidelines.

The “Public Playground Safety Handbook” presents information about the best practices for achieving playground safety — whether the playground is at a school, a park or any other public place. This information can be critical, as more than 200,000 children end up in emergency rooms each year because of a playground incident. The handbook most recently was revised in 2010, but the playground safety standards and guidelines are worth reviewing, and can serve as a roadmap for those designing an environment where kids can play safely.

Most Recent Guideline Revisions

The most recent revisions in the CPSC handbook addressed issues including age ranges, equipment, surfacing and sun exposure:

  1. Equipment guidelines now extend to kids as young as 6 months old.
  2. Guidelines for track rides and log rolls were added to address these new playground features.
  3. The exit zone requirements for slides were updated.
  4. Under the “surfacing guidelines,” the critical height table (which addresses the approximate height below which a fall would not likely cause a life-threatening head injury) was revised.
  5. To help protect against skin cancer, new cautions about sun exposure and suggestions for shading were added to the recommendations.

Reviewing Some Design Basics

Were safety standards in place when your kids’ favorite playground was constructed? CPSC standards don’t just offer guidelines on playing safely, but how to build a playground with safety in mind. To determine how safe the playground is, consider whether these factors were taken into account when the playground was designed:

  1. How to Select a Site: You want a site free from hazards and protected from any nearby hazards, with shade and with proper drainage available.
  2. What Matters Regarding Layout: Good playground layouts take into account accessibility, age separation, conflicting activities, sight lines, signage and supervision.
  3. What to Look for in Equipment: Playground equipment should be age-appropriate, stimulating and free from equipment not recommended on public playgrounds, such as trampolines, climbing ropes, rope swings and more.
  4. What Playground Surface Material Is Best: Because they can play such a huge role in preventing life-threatening injuries, it’s vital that playgrounds have shock-absorbing, nontoxic surfaces. Listed approved playground flooring options include engineered wood fiber, pea gravel, sand, shredded or recycled rubber mulch, wood mulch that’s not CCA-treated or wood chips.

A public playground provides a wonderful opportunity for enriching, enjoyable play — as long as it was designed with attention to safety regulations. Reviewing the general guidelines above can help you determine how safe a playground is.

Providing quality playground safety surfacing that meets regulations and improves aesthetics is what we do at Perfect Rubber Mulch. Explore our online catalog or get in touch with us today to learn more about our shock-absorbing playground surfaces.