The warmer weather attracts greater numbers of children to playgrounds. In a safe environment, they are free to satisfy their urge to move around and experience their environment in a playful way. But not all playgrounds are sufficiently maintained to ensure risk-free playing and climbing. As a result, it is advisable to look out for any abnormalities during a visit, say DEKRA playground experts.
- Ensure play area has effective fall protection
- Remove bicycle helmets before playing
- Exercise caution if equipment is visibly damaged
Wherever children move around, injuries and accidents invariably occur. According to a representative study by the Austrian Road Safety Board (KFV) and the German Foundation for Safety in Sports (SSiS), 28 percent of respondents would like to see more action taken to prevent accidents at playgrounds.
Falling from equipment is the most common cause of accidents
A report by the Center for Research on Child Accidents at University Hospital in Graz, Austria, views the condition of playgrounds as an important part of accident prevention. This applies in particular to the shock-absorbent fall protection materials such as sand, gravel, and bark chippings, and the impact surfacing, which must be kept free of hard objects. This is because the report cites falls from play equipment as the most common cause of accidents. Falling from climbing equipment is common, as is falling from or being hit by swings.
Safety standards not always met
In the experience of DEKRA playground inspectors, dangers can also arise from deficiencies in the technical and structural safety of playgrounds. Wear and tear, inadequate inspection, and lack of maintenance, in particular, but also vandalism and the effects of the weather can contribute to equipment or installations no longer meeting the applicable safety standards.
“We recommend that parents and caregivers keep their eyes open after the winter and spring months and pay attention to the condition of the area and equipment,” says Romuald Barysch, DEKRA’s specialist responsible for play, sport, and leisure facilities.
Beware of loose parts
The experts frequently notice unsound wooden beams and components that have become loose. “Caution is also always advised when individual parts are missing from equipment or there is visible damage,” explains Barysch. Missing parts can create gaps in which children risk having their heads, bodies, or extremities caught.
Do not place scooters or bicycles under climbing equipment
Care should also be taken to avoid placing objects such as scooters or bicycles in areas under playground and climbing equipment where children could fall and injure themselves. If children leave their cycling helmets on, this creates a risk that they may get caught on climbing equipment. The same thing can also happen with scarves and loose cords on clothing.
Anyone who notices any deficiencies should contact the operator, whose contact details should be displayed near the playground entrance.