When Equipment’s Unsafe, Playtime’s Over
Every year, more than 200,000 children 14 years and younger are rushed to emergency rooms for playground injuries. A four-year-old California girl who was found conscious but injured next to a portable playhouse-puppet theater is one of the nation’s most recent victims. While the playground was allegedly supervised by two adults, no one saw the accident that caused the little girl’s head injuries. For Tulsa, OK parents, the injury may evoke painful memories of the nine-year-old girl who died in an area playground in 2011.
Playground dangers: More than meet the eye
While playground structures differ, there are common features that are responsible for more than their fair share of injuries. For example, playground climbers, such as jungle gyms and monkey bars, are responsible for more injuries than any other equipment at public playgrounds. At home playgrounds, swings are the most dangerous structures. In addition, playgrounds in low-income areas report more maintenance-related problems than playgrounds in more affluent environs, including damaged fall surfaces.
Serious injuries and fatalities
Almost half the injuries on U.S. playgrounds are severe and include:
- Limb fractures and dislocations
- Internal injuries
Restaurant kids’ play zones: Petri dish playgrounds
Another risk parents are becoming increasingly aware of is the amount of contagions covering playground equipment and their surrounding areas. This is especially problematic at restaurant playgrounds. This came to light after an Arizona mother of four who also serves as a child development professor tested playgrounds in 11 states them for cleanliness and discovered a rampant array of pathogens, including ones that cause pneumonia, respiratory illnesses and food poisoning.
A tool that may help identify dangerous playgrounds is called the Triax 2000, which measures the potential impact of playground falls using a sensor-fitted steel ball. The tests have proven that playgrounds must have at least 10 inches of sand or pea gravel, as falls on cement-like surfaces, dirt, or grass result in fractures and other serious injuries.
Playground accidents can be traumatic experiences for children and their parents. Experienced attorneys can help alleviate financial burdens that physical injuries can cause.