Playground Safety

Playground Safety

You and your children go to the playground to have a good time. But keep in mind that:

  • Approximately 200,000 preschool and elementary children receive emergency department care each year for injuries that occur on playground equipment
  • 60 percent of playground injuries are the result of falls, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission

It’s important for children to play safe so they don’t get hurt. Adults should supervise children. They should also take a close look at the equipment and surrounding surfaces — the equipment should be well maintained and the surfaces underneath should be soft and able to absorb the impact of a fall.

Learn about pediatric first-aid and CPR in our community classes. You can also get additional tips for children and teens on exercise.

Playground Hazards

Some of the biggest hazards on playgrounds are:

  • Inadequate protective surfacing: Make sure there is sand, wood chips or rubberized matting under swings, seesaws and jungle gyms, and that these surfaces are well maintained. On concrete or asphalt, a fall directly on the head can be fatal, even from a height of just a few inches.
  • Potential head entrapment: Vertical and horizontal spaces should be less than 3.5 inches wide or more than 9 inches wide. This is to keep a small child’s head from getting trapped.
  • Not enough room for children to fall safely: Play equipment should be installed at least 6 feet from any barrier, such as a wall or fence, and should be securely anchored to prevent tipping. The concrete anchors should be buried below the surface of the dirt and beneath the full depth of the ground cover of absorbent material. Some equipment, such as swings and slides, require a larger “fall zone.”
  • Loose clothing and drawstrings: Sometimes children’s clothing can pose a problem, such as jackets that have drawstrings around the hood, neck or waist. Drawstrings pose a particular danger to children because they can strangle if they get caught on the playground equipment. One way to prevent this is to take the drawstrings off the hoods and collars of your child’s jackets, shirts and hats and shorten the drawstrings around the bottom of coats and jackets. If you want to leave the drawstrings, you can either cut all the ends just short enough so that they tie or sew a seam in the middle.

Using Playground Equipment Safely


  • Hold onto rails when climbing up the ladder.
  • Always slide down feet first.
  • Wait your turn and make sure no one else is on the slide before you go.
  • Never run up the slide.


  • Make sure the merry-go-round stops before you get on.
  • Sit in the middle, hold onto the bar or handles and don’t let go.
  • Don’t get off the merry-go-round until it has stopped.


  • Sit in the center of the swing.
  • Don’t walk or run in front of or behind the swings.
  • Never stand on a swing.
  • Never share a swing with another child.
  • Don’t swing too high.
  • Don’t get off the swing until it has stopped.
  • Don’t swing crookedly.

Jungle gym, climber and monkey bars

  • Don’t play on them if you can’t reach the bars.
  • Always hold on with two hands.
  • Never climb up on the top of the bars.


  • Always sit facing the other rider.
  • Hold on with both hands.
  • Keep your feet out from under the board.
  • Always tell the other rider that you are getting off.
  • If the child is between 3 and 5 they should ride with other children of comparable age and weight.

Other Playground Rules

  • Be polite, considerate and cooperative.
  • Wait your turn.
  • No pushing, shoving, hitting or fighting.
  • Share with others.
  • Do not throw rocks.
  • Do not go into the parking lot. Ask an adult to help retrieve balls.
  • Do not talk to strangers. Tell an adult if strangers are on the playground.
  • Tell an adult if someone gets hurt.

Playing in the Heat

When the weather is warm and sunny, it’s fun for children to play and run outside. But share these tips with them so they don’t get overheated:

  • Allow an adult to check for hot surfaces on the playground equipment before you play.
  • Drink lots of water all day, even if you’re not thirsty.
  • Take lots of rest breaks to cool down.
  • Exercise, run and play in a shady area.
  • Don’t’ wear heavy, dark-colored clothes.
  • Stay away from beehives and wasp nests.
  • If you feel too hot tired or dizzy get out of the sun right away and tell an adult.

Learn more about our advice for sun protection.

St. Joseph’s Contact Information

For more information about injury prevention and other programs at St. Joseph’s Children’s Advocacy Center, please call (813) 615-0589 or visit us at 1401A East Fowler Ave., Tampa, Florida 33612.