Swings and other outdoor play equipment have always been a popular childhood pastime. They also can be a great alternative to today’s “screen time” and other sedentary activities. However, playing on outdoor equipment does come at a risk.


Consider the following when taking your children outside to play on public playgrounds or home play sets:

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Playground Injuries: Fact Sheet reports that hospital emergency rooms treat over 200,000 children 14 and younger each year because of playground-related injuries.
  • Most playground injuries occur when children fall from the equipment onto non-protective surfaces, such as blacktop or bare level earth, resulting in broken bones, concussions, bruises, cuts and sprains. The most serious or fatal injuries can include traumatic brain injury and strangulation.

Always supervise children when they play on public playgrounds or home play equipment. Before letting them do so, take time to inspect:

  • Hardware – remove any “S” hooks that can be reached by children
  • Space configuration – block any small spaces that can trap children
  • Guardrails – assure that all platforms and ramps are protected
  • Trip hazards – remove any obstacles that could cause a child to trip and fall
  • Sharp or rough edges – repair any sharp metal edges and smooth any wood that may splinter
  • Pad depth –
    • Equipment more than 7 feet high needs protection underneath of at least 9 inches of mulch, woodchips, shredded rubber or rubber pads
    • Equipment up to 5 feet high needs 9 inches of sand or pea gravel

If you are considering building your own playset in the backyard, remember that children in your neighborhood – not just your own children – will be attracted to a new playset. Set rules regarding supervision, guest playing time and equipment capacity and consider installing a gated fence around your yard.


Outdoor play can provide important health benefits, but many public play areas have set requirements for safe use during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers guidelines for hand washing and distancing while using public playgrounds.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Contact Landmark Risk Management & Insurance for insurance coverage advice and loss control information.