Playgrounds can help children be active and healthy. They’re a place where children can run, jump, climb, slide and play with peers.
Adults and caregivers need to take care to ensure that children stay safe in the playground. Most playground injuries are caused when children fall from the equipment, but they can also happen if a child gets caught in or cut by equipment that isn’t well cared for.
When choosing a playground:
- Make sure the structures are right for your child’s age and stage of development.
- Make sure your child can reach and climb equipment on his own.
- Look for proper surfaces:
- Good playground surfaces use sand, wood chips and synthetic (man-made) materials—such as shredded rubber—that are soft. These materials will help absorb a child’s fall.
- The fill should be deep and loose. For preschool equipment, the fill should be at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep. The fill should be at least 30 cm (12 inches) deep for full sized equipment.
- Grass, dirt, asphalt or concrete are not safe surfaces for playground equipment.
- Check that the equipment has strong handrails and barriers to help prevent falls.
- Equipment should be firmly anchored in the ground.
- Make sure there is no garbage, glass or animal feces on or around the equipment.
- Swings should be of a soft material like plastic, not wood or metal.
Before your child uses a playground:
- Check your child’s clothing. Make sure there are no drawstrings or other cords, which can get trapped in equipment.
- Use a neck warmer instead of a scarf and mitten clips instead of a cord during the winter months.
- Take off bicycle helmets. Your child’s head can get caught in a space between narrow openings and become stuck when the helmet is too big to pull back through.
- Put away skipping ropes while using the playground equipment.
Supervise your child
- Stay close to your child. An adult should be present to supervise children younger than 5 years at all times.
- Make sure that your child uses the equipment safely and correctly.
- Teach your child to watch for other children and to take turns on playground equipment.
Get involved in playground safety
Communities can make sure their local public playgrounds meet Canadian standards. You can do this by:
- Having a certified expert inspect the playground to look for dangers and prioritize any changes that should be made.
- Making sure the changes are made so that the playground is safe.
- Keeping the playground equipment, surface and grounds clean.
- Reporting injuries to the playground operator, such as the municipality, school, or child care facility.
If you are concerned about the safety of your local playground, contact the people who operate it. Check the blue pages of your phone book for local contact information.
- The Canadian Standards Association creates standards for play spaces and equipment. Purchase current standards at www.csa.ca or by calling 1-800-463-6727.
- Contact your local or provincial injury prevention centre, your nearest children’s hospital, or Safe Kids Canada (1-888-SAFE-TIPS, 1-888-723-3847) for safety checklists that will help you check for basic playground hazards.
Some communities have non-traditional outdoor play spaces instead of playground equipment. Some examples include community flower or vegetable gardens, and sand or water play areas. These play areas are less expensive to develop, and can be designed to challenge children’s development without the risk of falls. Visit www.evergreen.ca to see examples of alternative playgrounds.
More information from the CPS:
Reviewed by the following CPS committees:
- Injury Prevention Committee
Last Updated: June 2012