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CHILDREN AT RISK



Playgrounds are built to help children have fun, face new challenges, and develop both physically and socially. Unfortunately they can also be a place where a devastating injury can occur. Recent statistics released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed the following

- An average of 15-20 children die each year as a result of a playground injury.
- Over 190,000 children were treated in the emergency room due to an injury sustained on a playground.
- The New York Public Interest Group recently conducted a inspection of New York playgrounds and found that over 80% contain hazardous conditions that could result in death or a debilitating injury.

The really unfortunate part of these statistics is that a majority of these injuries could be avoided by developing a playground inspection and maintenance program. Most operators or owners of playground facilities feel confident that they have everything under control on their grounds, but the reality is that they may not know what to look for. For example can you answer the following questions? (answers below)

1. What kind and how much surfacing is required for a piece of play equipment that has a fall height of 10 feet?
2. What is an entanglement and how would you identify it?
3. What is a head entrapment? Why are younger children more susceptible to head entrapment hazards than older children?

If you could not answer the above questions, don?t feel bad! Most owners/operators do not have the proper training on what to look for. The National Recreation and Park Association conducts a course for an individual to become a Certified Playground Safety Inspector. The course is very complex and covers CPSC Guidelines, ASTM Standards and ADA Regulations. Upon completion the NPSI Inspector looks at playground equipment in an entirely different fashion than most people normally do. There are probes and gauges needed to properly inspect playground equipment and identify hazardous conditions. If you are not certified or are not familiar with the probes and gauges and their use, you could be responsible for a child being severely hurt or killed at your facility.
The best way to be sure your grounds are safe is to have a trained certified National Playground Safety Inspector check your grounds for hazards (or take the safety class yourself). Do not wait for an accident or a liability suit take place before you take action. Call us at Playground Medic for an initial consultation (free of charge). We can discuss your concerns and work with you to get your playground in the safest possible condition. Remember-children are going to get hurt on your facilities-but you can make sure that it was not due to your oversight.

ANSWERS-1. Each type of surfacing has a different impact attenuation. The type of surfacing you have and the fall height of the equipment dictates the depth of the surfacing needed based on the manufacturer?s ASTM F1292 test results. 2. An entanglement is any gap or protrusion on a piece of equipment that a child or his clothing could get caught or entwined upon. 3. A head entrapment is an opening that a user could get his body through, but not his head. Younger children (2-5) are more susceptible to head entrapments as their heads are bigger than their torso.