|NEWARK – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and New Jersey’s county and municipal Consumer Affairs Local Assistance (CALA) offices today continued the commemoration of Summer Safety Week with tips on playground safety for New Jersey residents.
“It’s easy to keep summer safe by making sure the public or home playgrounds are in good condition, reporting any safety issues to those who are in charge, and closely supervising children while they play,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve C. Lee said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that, each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. More than one-third of those injuries are severe, including fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, or even amputations. Children ages 5 to 9 have higher rates of emergency department visits for playground injuries than any other age group.
On public playgrounds, injuries occur more often on climbers than on any other equipment, according to the CDC. At home playgrounds, swings are responsible for most injuries.
Playground Safety Checklist (for Public and Home Playgrounds):
- If you see any maintenance or safety problems at a public playground, contact the entity that is responsible for the playground right away. They would rather learn about, and have the opportunity to fix, any problems before they contribute to an injury.
- Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have shock-absorbing surfaces to prevent falling injuries. Surfaces should have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel; or should be surfacing mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
- Ensure that the protective surfacing extends at least six feet in all directions from safety equipment. The surfacing behind and in front of swings should extend twice the height of the suspending bar.
- Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are placed at least nine feet apart.
- Check for dangerous hardware such as open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends.
- Make sure that any spaces that could trap children – such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs – measure less than 3.5 inches or more than nine inches.
- Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
- Look out for tripping hazards such as exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
- Make sure elevated surfaces, such as platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
- Check playgrounds regularly to ensure the equipment and surfacing are in good condition.
- Never attach, or allow children to attach, ropes, pet leashes, etc. to play equipment, as they can cause strangulation injuries.
- Carefully supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.
- Parents and daycare provides should never put small climbing gyms on wood or cement floors, even if they are covered with carpet. Carpet does not provide adequate protection to prevent injuries. All climbing equipment should be placed on surfaces such as sand, mulch, or protective mats, as described above, to prevent injuries.
- Hot surfaces – including plastic, rubber, and uncoated metal equipment – can cause burns, especially in children 2 years old and younger. Always check the temperature of the equipment before letting your children play on the playground. Always dress your child in appropriate clothing, such as shoes and pants.
New Jersey’s CALA offices work with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs to enforce New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act, and related statutes and regulations, in each county that includes a CALA office. Consumers can file complaints by contacting their local CALA office or the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of marketplace abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.