How Schools Ensure Playgrounds Stay Safe

September 08, 2023

Here are some important information on how schools are keeping playgrounds safe for children.

Playgrounds are a special place for kids — it’s where they can let their imaginations run wild. With that fun and excitement, there are some serious dangers to be aware of. As a parent, you’ve likely considered the significant responsibility schools have to keep kids safe during recess — but how do they do it?

How Schools Ensure Playgrounds Stay Safe
Photo by Levi Damasceno

How Schools Ensure Playgrounds Stay Safe

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there were nearly 156,000 playground-related injuries yearly between 2019 and 2021. We’re breaking down a few important safety practices and measures schools use to prevent playground injuries and prioritize safety during playtime.

    1. Secure Equipment Design

    Schools must work closely with manufacturers to create playground areas with safety at the forefront of every design plan. All play structures and equipment must meet strict safety standards outlined by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission and American Society for Testing and Materials F1487-21.

    When planning the design of a new outdoor play area, there are some important safety considerations for schools to prioritize:

    • Proper installation: One of the most important parts of a safe playground is having securely installed equipment that is safe for kids to use.
    • Age groups: Schools must also consider the age groups of their students and choose equipment that is suitable for different developmental stages.
    • ADA compliance: Another essential consideration for secure playground equipment design is complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.

    2. Proper Playground Surfacing

    Along with secure equipment design, schools are also responsible for choosing proper playground surfacing materials to promote safety. Some of the most popular playground surfacing options include:

    • Asphalt
    • Synthetic resins
    • Poured-in place rubber
    • Rubber tiles
    • Loose-fill rubber

    In addition to choosing the right materials, schools must also ensure surfacing is installed correctly and without potential tripping hazards. These may include large rocks, tree stumps, or exposed roots.

    The ground needs to offer a little cushion for shock absorption in case a child falls. Playgrounds and sports areas require a shock absorbance of 25% or more for any synthetic surfaces to help ensure safety. The right surfacing material will improve the safety of the school’s playground and reduce the risk of injuries for a better overall playing experience.

    3. Regular Inspections and Maintenance

    After a school playground is installed, efforts to keep it as safe as possible continue. Schools must take steps to ensure the playground is as safe as possible. Regular inspections and maintenance are key to providing kids with a secure place to explore.

    A professional should perform a thorough inspection of the playground to test its structural integrity and oversee any cosmetic damage at least once a year. Schools must prioritize ongoing maintenance to ensure broken, misaligned, or out-of-place equipment is taken care of promptly.

    With routine inspections and repairs, schools can keep their play areas in optimal condition for safety.

    4. Daily Playground Checks

    In conjunction with regular inspection and maintenance, schools ensure playgrounds are safe with daily checks. A visual inspection will help teachers or other staff members identify areas of concern. Whether the equipment is wet from a rainshower or a wasp nest has taken over a swingset, new hazards can pop up at any time on an outdoor playground. Taking a look around before allowing kids to play helps manage the risk of injuries or harm.

    Daily playground checks are essential in high temperatures. The beginning and end of the school year tend to be the hottest, and schools are responsible for ensuring that playground equipment will not cause burns and that time outside will not result in heat-related illnesses. It is also important that schools do not take kids outdoors without proper hydration and shade when UV levels are most dangerous on especially hot days.

    5. Teaching Kids About Safe Play

    Secure, well-built equipment and surfacing are just the beginning of playground safety. Schools must also teach kids about risk management and following playtime guidelines.

    When kids get out on the playground, they are in charge of making decisions on their own while abiding by the rules. Schools can keep kids safe by sharing the following information:

    • How to properly play on each structure
    • Which structures are age-appropriate for them
    • Appropriate times to share equipment or wait their turn
    • Potential playground hazards and how to avoid them

    6. Constant Adult Supervision

    Another way schools ensure playgrounds stay safe is by mandating adult supervision whenever kids are at play. Whether it is a teacher or recess aide, a trusted adult should always be present on the playground. They are responsible for overseeing all activities and intervening if someone is breaking the rules or gets hurt.

    Remember that playground safety begins with you, the parent. Anytime you take your child to a local playground, use it as an opportunity to practice and talk about safe play. Review the playground rules with them and always encourage them to make good choices.

    Author Bio

    Jack Shaw is the senior lifestyle writer at with a special interest in covering concerns of health, family, and relationships. You’ll often find him exploring nature or playing with his dog or in his free time.

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