Playground Safety When designing an outdoor space for children, it is critical to reduce the risk of injury while increasing the challenge. The first step is knowing what aspects of the actual learning environment are most likely to cause injuries. Falls from, into, or on equipment are the most common cause of injury. Falls are most likely to occur on equipment that is not appropriate for the age and development of the children. And injuries are most likely to occur when the surface on which a child falls is not sufficiently shock- absorbing. The equipment pieces that are associated with the most injuries include climbers, such as monkey bars or overhead ladders, swings, and slides. About 85% of all playground injuries occur on these three pieces of equipment. And the most common cause of death on playgrounds is strangulation, that’s an injury that chokes the child. It’s important to understand that injuries are not accidents. Most injuries are predictable and preventable. Programs can take steps to prevent serious injuries by
choosing developmentally-appropriate play equipment to ensure children do not fall from a high level and the challenges on the playground are matched with their ability.
installing proper surfacing to minimize the severity of an injury if a child does fall.
providing intentional and active supervision by maintaining close proximity to children, especially in places that are high risk for injury from a fall such as the slide or monkey bars).
encouraging safe behaviors by introducing safety habits to children. Reinforcing these safe behaviors in an early care and education program provides lifelong lessons about safety and injury prevention. As consultants, you can work with your program and teachers to predict and prevent many injuries and allow children to play.