Designing a Safe Playground: Tips and Guidelines
How to Design a Safe Playground
Playgrounds are more than just fun — they help kids develop their physical, social and thinking skills. But a playground that’s not safe can discourage kids from playing outside, leading to serious health problems.
Look for a safety playground that has protective ground surface like wood chips, mulch or safety-tested mats. Be sure that it is thick enough to cushion a fall and extend at least 6 feet in all directions from equipment. 안전놀이터
When designing a safe playground, the ground or safety surface is as important as the equipment. The right surfacing absorbs the impact of falls and can prevent injuries that could range from minor to fatal.
Poured-in-Place or PIP rubber is one of the most popular choices for a commercial playground safety surface. This durable, ADA compliant material is comprised of a layer of shock-absorbing rubber buffings and a top layer of granular particles all mixed with binder. The resulting surface is smooth and easy to clean.
Another option is Burke Turf which looks like natural grass, but doesn’t require mowing or watering. It’s one of the most visually appealing and cost effective options for a safe, long-lasting safety surface.
Unitary surfaces such as Burke Turf are a great choice for a safe playground because they offer a single, seamless surface that reduces trip-and-fall accidents. They also meet CPSC and ASTM safety requirements for impact attenuation.
Safety rails are a key part of playground equipment. They help keep children safely away from dangerous areas and prevent them from falling off equipment. They also provide a barrier between different pieces of equipment that may be inappropriate for children of different age levels.
Most playground injuries occur when children fall from the equipment to the ground below. Providing a soft, cushioning surface like pea gravel, sand or wood chips will help reduce the number of injuries. This type of surfacing should be a minimum of 12 inches thick.
Check that platforms more than 30 inches high are protected by guardrails and that there is a protective barrier around the equipment to prevent children from climbing up or jumping down. Also look for protruding hardware, sharp points and edges and holes that could trap children. Avoid cramming too much equipment in one area and always have clear sightlines to ensure teachers, parents and other supervisors can see where children are at all times.
Safe Falling Techniques
Playgrounds allow children to expand their imaginations and develop coordination skills, but they can also be dangerous places. Each year, more than 200,000 kids are seen in emergency departments for playground-related injuries. Most of these injuries occur when kids fall from equipment or off the ground, which is why it’s important to use a shock-absorbing surface under and around the equipment.
Acceptable playground safety surfacing includes mats, tiles and poured-in-place surfaces. It should also be properly installed and maintained over its lifespan. This means making sure it has the correct thickness to meet equipment’s critical fall height and addressing any expected deterioration in impact attenuation due to age or conditions.
Kids should also be taught safe fall techniques, such as holding on to a swing with both hands and sliding feet-first on the slide. They should be encouraged to take turns using equipment and never play rough — pushing, shoveling or playing fights could result in falls off or onto equipment or collisions with other children.
Children need to have adult supervision on playgrounds. Young kids can’t gauge distances correctly, and older kids like to push the limits of safety equipment. Adults can teach students safe playground behavior and prevent accidents with effective supervision.
Over 200,000 American children visit the emergency room annually because of injuries that happened on their school playgrounds. Empirically supported supervision interventions reduce playground injuries by changing children’s attribution of risk, teaching them playground rules and stopping dangerous behavior.
Ensure that there are enough adult supervisors for every class of kids in your school. Set up equipment that allows adults to see the entire playground at all times and identify blind spots. Encourage supervisors to communicate with each other using a walkie-talkie. Sanitize structures before and after playtime to ensure that all surfaces and equipment are clean and free of harmful chemicals (follow your school’s Bloodborne Pathogens protocol). The NPPS offers a Kid’s Checklist evaluation tool for schools, day care centers and residential sites to assess their playgrounds.