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Playground safety paramount

Playground accidents are one of the leading causes of injury to children in elementary school. Each year, in the United States, more than 200,000 children receive emergency department care for injuries that occurred on playground equipment.

The leading cause of deaths related to playgrounds and playground equipment is strangulation. Approximately 15 children per year die from playground-related injuries such as strangulation when a piece of loose clothing or jewelry gets caught on equipment or the child’s head gets stuck between climbing bars.

Falls are the leading cause of playground-related injuries. According to Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas, a child who falls 10 feet is at risk of spinal cord injury, paralysis, or death. Protective surface materials can be the difference between life and death.

“The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with shredded rubber, hardwood fiber mulch, or fine sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment,” Sage said.

Even with proper surfacing, teachers and playground monitors need to keep kids in sight and in reach on the playground.

“Simply being in the same place as the children is not necessarily supervising,” Sage said.

For outdoor play, children’s clothing and outerwear should be free of drawstrings and should fit snugly to minimize the risk of getting stuck in a piece of equipment.

For more information about playground safety, call 785-296-1223 or visit www.usa.safekids.org.

Last modified Aug. 26, 2009

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