Our playgrounds offer kids and families a secure, engaging space where they can enjoy fresh air while reaping the benefits of physical activity. Unfortunately, with all that activity comes the inevitable risk of injury. To ensure an enjoyable visit to our playgrounds for every child, every time, we can offer parents clear, easy-to-follow guidelines on the safe, appropriate use of our grounds and our equipment.
The Legal Angle
No one likes to think about the possibility of a lawsuit resulting from a child being injured on your playground. But legal realities are a fact of life, and if a suit should arise, having posted the appropriate safety signage in full view of visitors can help your case by showing the court you ‘ve taken steps to ensure a safe experience.
The Official Word
Both the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have issued recommendations regarding playground safety signage. ASTM’s recommendations are located in the Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use, and you can find the CPSC’s guidelines in the Public Playground Safety Handbook.
Types of Playground Safety Signage
Supervision Advisory: A simple sign reading “Adult supervision is recommended” reminds visitors that your playground is not intended for unsupervised play.
Age Range of Equipment Users: For a safe and enjoyable playground experience, it’s important that children use only equipment that is age-appropriate for them. Labeling your equipment with age ranges gives the parent clear guidance on whether a particular activity is safe for his or her child.
Hot Surface Warning: During our sweltering Texas summers, it’s possible for playground equipment to become so hot that it creates a burn hazard. A hot surface warning label advises the parent or caregiver to test the surfaces of slides, swings, and other equipment before allowing the child to play on them.
Strangulation Warning: Loose clothing, drawstrings, necklaces, straps, and other elements can present a strangulation risk if they get caught on equipment during play. Strangulation warning labels advise parents and caregivers to remove any and all strangulation hazards before allowing the child to play on the equipment.
Surfacing Warnings: Any equipment installed on a hard surface should carry a surfacing warning alerting parents to the risk of injuries from falls.
Where Signage Should Be Placed
Place all safety signs in locations where they are readily visible and where they can alert the viewer in time to take action if needed. They can be affixed to the equipment or posted on free-standing posts within the playground but outside of use zones.
Also, remember to keep trees, bushes and other plants trimmed so as not to obscure the visibility of your safety signs.
Playground safety is a team effort, and by presenting clear, easy-to-follow safety guidelines, we can help our communities enjoy a safe, engaging experience every time they visit.