A Playground Safety Checklist

by Dr. Joseph Guettler

As a father with four kids of my own, I’m aware that sports medicine doesn’t always have to be applied to just the field or the gymnasium.  For kids of all ages – including the really little ones – the playground is where it all starts.

Now is a good time to talk about playground safety.  The weather’s finally nice, and the park down the street is “calling.”  But before you let your kids run off and climb all over the equipment at the park, let me give you a couple of pointers that may very well keep your kids safe.

Over time, especially with harsh Michigan winters, playground equipment can take quite a hit.  Before I let my son or daughter play on the equipment, I give it a thorough “once over” to make sure it’s safe.   

Fortunately for all of us, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has come up with this checklist so that you as a parent can inspect the playground prior to letting your kids use it.  Most of this is common sense, but sometimes we need a little reminder, or checklist, so that things don’t fall through cracks (especially our children). 

When inspecting the playground equipment, ask the following questions:

  • Are any pieces of playground equipment missing supports, anchors or footings?
  • Are any supports, anchors or footings damaged or loose?
  • Are there sharp edges or points on any of the equipment?
  • Has the wood started to splinter or rot?
  • Are surface materials missing or damaged?
  • Are there any missing, loose or damaged nuts and bolts on the equipment?
  • Are any seats broken?
  • Is any of the metal bent, rusted or warped?
  • Are bolts or tubes missing their protective end caps?
  • Are swing hangers and chains broken or worn?
  • Are hooks, rings or links misshapen or deformed?
  • Are there any broken, missing or loose steps?
  • Are there broken, missing, or loose guard and handrails?
  • Are any ladder rungs missing, broken or loose?
  • Is there glass, cans or trash on the ground in the area?
  • Can you see tree roots or rocks sticking up that could cause a child to trip and fall?

If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” this playground is not safe for your child – don’t chance it!  Bring your list and report the playground to your local park or school officials.

For more information, go to miorthosurgeons.com.

Dr. Joseph Guettler is an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist. He is also an expert in adolescent sports medicine, and he is a proud member of the MOS Team.