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5/18/22 blog post

a safe place to play: how good surfacing keeps kids safer on the playground

No matter where your kids are playing, remember to check for safety first.  

As the weather warms up, we know kids will want to play outside even more, especially on playground equipment! Usually, by the time Spring arrives, many agencies that maintain playgrounds haven’t had a chance to replenish the surfaces of their playgrounds yet. You can be a source of important information needed to help maintain a good play space by reporting any problems with a playground's surfaces that you see to the playground agency.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers a checklist you can use to check the safety of a playground: 

  1. Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or are mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials. 
  2. Check that protective surfacing extends at least six feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar. 
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least nine feet apart. 
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open "S" hooks or protruding bolt ends.  
  5. Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches. 
  6. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment. 
  7. Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks. 
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls. 
  9. Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition. 
  10. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they're safe. 

No matter where your kids are playing, remember to check for safety first.  

When you're at the playground, use the above checklist as a guide to decide if it is a safe place for your children to play. If you find issues let the organization that oversees the playground know that the playground needs attention and find a new place to play until the playground meets guidelines.  

Check out our KidsHealth page to learn more about playground safety: Playground | Dayton Children's (  

Abbey Pettiford

Injury Prevention Coordinator
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