Every year more than 200,000 American kids visit their local emergency rooms because of playground injuries. So don't jog to the jungle gym just yet -- test your safety smarts with our playground safety quiz first.
Falls are the most common way kids get hurt on the playground: The National SAFE KIDS Campaign (NSKC) estimates that they make up 80 percent of playground-related injuries.
Strangulation causes 56 percent of playground-related deaths, according to NSKC. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends parents remove drawstrings from their children's clothing to avoid them becoming entangled in playground equipment or hardware. Small openings, gaps and rope swings also pose strangulation risks.
Poured-in-place rubber absorbs the most impact from falls and is currently one of the safest surfaces for playgrounds, according to the NPPS -- and it's compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Other safe playground surfaces include shredded rubber as well as loose fill, such as wood chips.
The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) recommends a 9- to 12-inch cushion of loose fill under playground equipment.
Long, spiral slides are dangerous for little kids and are more appropriate for school-aged (5 to 12) children. For kids ages 2 to 5, the NPPS recommends slides that are no taller than 4 feet.
Girls, reports the CDC, have a higher risk of injuring themselves on the playground: 55 percent are injured compared to 45 percent of boys.
Swings cause the greatest number of injuries on home playgrounds, finds a study conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Swing sets should be properly anchored when installed and seats should be at least 8 inches above the ground. Parents should also be sure kids don't twist swings or walk in front of swings when they're in use.
The Injury Free Coalition for Kids at Columbia University reports that 76 percent of playground injuries happen on equipment at schools, daycare and parks, 45 percent of which occur on school playgrounds.
NPPS estimates that nearly 40 percent of playground injuries are due to poor adult supervision, both at home and at school.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) set standards to ensure that both equipment and surfaces meet age-appropriate designs, accounting for physical size, skills and abilities.