Fulton & Barr: The Legal Pad
October 01, 2014
During this time of the year, humidity slowly moves out of the Carolinas and the scorching heat gives way to cool, warm afternoons. These weather conditions make playgrounds the ideal place to play.
Children love making new friends or meeting up with old ones to swing and slide the hours away. Parents love it, too. They know it’s a great way for kids to get some physical activity outdoors and it gives them peace of mind – keeping their kids entertained.
Peace of mind, that is, if it’s safe.
According to WebMD, 200,000 children visit emergency rooms every year for playground-related injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that most injuries are not fatal. The most common injuries are concussions, dislocations, severe fractures and amputations. Between 1990 and 2000, 147 children died from playground injuries. These fatalities occurred primarily from falls and strangulation at home playground equipment.
While these stats are somewhat alarming, there are steps parents can take to make sure their home and favorite public playground equipment is safe.
The number one way to prevent most playground injuries is to survey the grounds where the play equipment is positioned. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that playgrounds sit on safety-tested mats or loose-fill materials, such as sand, shredded rubber, wood chips and bark. The protective surface materials should extend six feet from the structure in all directions and reach a depth of 9-12 inches. Avoid playgrounds on concrete, asphalt, grass and soil surfaces. The AAP states in an article on HealthyChildren.org that falling headfirst from playgrounds, even when they are just a few inches from the ground, can cause serious injuries.
Equipment should also be regularly checked for maintenance. Inspect playgrounds for rusted metal, sharp and exposed edges (nails, screws, etc.), damaged parts and splintering wood. Any broken or damaged parts should be replaced immediately or notify local authorities – for public play areas that could be Parks and Recreation officials, schools or businesses.
Also, consider becoming an advocate for playground safety. Contact your local representative and discuss the importance for regulating routine public playground safety inspections. Speaking up about safety always has the potential to save lives.
Currently, there are no state or national laws on the maintenance of public and private playground equipment; however, the responsible party/property owner can be held accountable for injuries due to negligence. These cases become more aggressively prosecuted when a child is injured because of unsafe conditions.
If your child is injured or killed from unsafe playground equipment, we can help.
Contact Fulton & Barr, Attorneys at Law today for your free initial consultation, (800) 868-2110.