Each year, roughly 200,000 kids are injured on playgrounds. National Playground Safety Week is a time to focus on making children's outdoor play environments safer and thanking all the adults who work tirelessly on maintaining playgrounds. When choosing and maintaining your playground keep safety in mind.
What you can do:
Conduct monthly inspections using a checklist with your specific district equipment information. Download a sample checklist to get started.
Provide adequate shock-absorbing materials – Both unitary (poured in place and other stationary solids) and loose-fill materials can provide adequate shock absorbency. Recommended loose-fill materials include wood chips, double shredded bark mulch, engineered wood fibers, fine sand, coarse sand, fine gravel, medium gravel and shredded tires. Depending on the height of play equipment, surfaces should have a consistent 9 to 12 inches of shock-absorbing material.
Establish fall zones – Each piece of stationary equipment should have a radius of 6 feet around it free of ground hazards and covered with shock-absorbing materials. When fall zones overlap, there should be a minimum of 9 feet between structures over 30 inches tall. Swing set fall zones should extend two times the height of the swing fulcrum in front and behind the swing’s center.
Maintain safe hardware – Equipment should be checked for extensive wear and tear, protruding bolts, and pinch points. Chains should not have open “S” hooks and should be replaced when there is 50 percent wear of the chain’s gauge. Nuts, bolts and support bars should be as flush to the play surface as possible.
Eliminate entanglement and entrapment hazards – Any protruding item that may be able to catch children’s clothing and strings can be a hazard. Openings or snags should be filled in or made flush with their surrounding surface. Any opening between 3½ and 9 inches could entrap a child’s head, arm or leg and should be eliminated. If there are any hazards in a public or backyard playground, report them immediately and do not allow children to use the equipment until it is safe.
Register for the Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) class – The purpose of the CPSI certification is for those certified to be able to: identify hazards on public playground equipment and the playground; rank the hazards according to injury potential; and apply the knowledge to remove the hazards and establish a system of inspections and maintenance. Hosted by the Oregon Recreation and Park Association (ORPA), Oregon’s only CPSI class of 2015 will be held June 3-5 in Hillsboro. Register by April 17 for best registration rates, and find all the details about the upcoming CPSI class and exam by visiting ORPA’s website at www.orpa.org.