Remember the playgrounds we played on? Compared to the plastic and foamy playgrounds our kids play on today, the schoolyards of yesterday probably seem like death traps.
We ran around rusty metal poles. Climbed ragged wooden structures full of sharp corners and the promise of splinters. We weren’t falling on foam or rubber, either. One visit to a public park shows how far we’ve come in terms of providing safe areas for our kids.
Even the most modern, safety-minded playgrounds are not full-proof, however. Playground injuries still happen, and they can be just as devastating as the ones you might remember.
The Statistics: Playground Injuries and Deaths
The number of injuries and deaths caused by playground equipment is heartbreaking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 200,000 kids go to the emergency room every year for playground-related injuries.
Over half of those injuries are fractures, contusions, or abrasions. Even worse, despite the efforts to make playgrounds safer, the rate of emergency room visits has actually increased in the past decade.
One of the scariest things about playground injuries is the impact it can have on your child’s brain. Over 1 in 10 children who head to the ER for a playground injury sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBIs include concussions, which can have a lasting impact on your child’s ability to play sports or engage in active behavior for the rest of their life.
Thankfully, death from playground injuries is not common. That being said, it does happen. About 15 children every year die from playground-related injuries.
What Causes Playground Injuries to Occur?
Playgrounds include a lot of equipment that could potentially lead to your kids getting injured. Certain things are more dangerous than others, but in large part the amount of danger is very closely related to how old the child is.
Slides cause a high rate of injuries among children under the age of 4, for example, but monkey bars and climbing equipment cause a high rate of injuries among children between the ages of 5 and 14. Swings consistently cause injuries among all age groups.
Strangulation (from swing chains or getting caught in equipment while wearing a drawstring jacket) and falls (high falls onto hard surfaces) top the list for causes of playground-related deaths.
It’s also important to note that most traumatic brain injuries happen when kids are playing on playgrounds at school. Teachers and aides do their best to keep kids safe during recess, but they can’t keep their eyes on every single student at all times.
What Can You Do to Prevent Playground Injuries?
You can’t be there to watch your kids like a hawk every time they step on a playground, but there are things that you can do to help prevent injuries at a school or public playground:
- Dress your children in clothing without loose strings and avoid necklaces or long scarves that could get tangled or caught in playground equipment.
- Talk to your children about playground safety. Your child should know to walk, not run, and that pushing and shoving other children is extremely dangerous and can cause serious injuries.
- Visit your child’s school playground to make sure the equipment is safe. If you see rusty metal bars, broken equipment, or other safety hazards, talk to your child’s teacher or the school principal. Schools have a responsibility to keep their students safe.
What if the worst happens and your child does suffer injury? Medical bills can get expensive fast, so it is important to remember that if your child’s playground injury was due to negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit for the damages and losses incurred. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and your legal options.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.