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Tips to Make Your Indiana Backyard Playground Safer

Jason Reese

At Home Playground Equipment Accounts For Most Playground Injuries and Deaths

The Consumer Product Safety Commission provided an analysis of injuries and deaths associated with playground equipment that showed an alarming 66 percent of playground injuries and deaths reportedly occurred at home from 2009 to 2014. That said, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children with injuries associated with playground related injuries occurring at places of recreation like public parks or schools.

Here are some statistics for injuries that occurred on playground equipment at home:


  • 47 percent involved children under the age of five
  • 41 percent involved children ages five to nine years of age

Injury Severity

  • 53 percent of the reports indicated no injury
  • 28 percent reports had a severity that was not specified or unknown
  • 13 percent involved a minor injury not requiring hospitalization

Injury Pattern

  • 81 percent involved falls or equipment failure
  • 72 percent involved seesaws/teeter totters, swings, slides, or composite play structures

Fatal Home Playground Equipment Incidents

According to the report, CPSC staff special investigated 34 of the deaths associated with playground equipment. Sadly, the victim age ranged from as young as 13 months to as old as 52 years. The average age was 7 years, and the median age was 5 years. 33 of the victims (97 percent) were under 16.

Of the 34 investigated fatal incidents:

  • 19 deaths were the result of hangings or other asphyxiations
  • 12 involved a second product
  • 5 were associated with slides
  • 5 occurred on swings
  • 8 deaths were the result of head or neck impact injuries

General hazard patterns were mostly equipment related like, “breakage, tip overs, poor design or assembly, falls from, into, or onto the equipment, incidental hazards around, but not related to, the equipment, collisions with other children or the equipment, entrapments, and others.” 81 percent of the reported incidents were equipment-related hazards and falls.

Making Your Home Playground Equipment Safe

You can ensure your home playground is both entertaining and safe for your kids by checking equipment for potential hazards and following some simple safety guidelines and checklist below.

Public Playground Safety Checklist

(Provided by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission)

  • Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or are mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
  • Check that protective surfacing extends at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back and front, twice the height of the suspending bar.
  • Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  • Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends.
  • Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  • Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  • Look out for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps, and rocks.
  • Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
  • Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition.
  • Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.

Playground Equipment, Premises Liability and Product Liability

These days there are hundreds of playground kits available to purchase in-store and online and thousands more pieces of playground equipment available to add to your favorite backyard tree. With these endless options, many of your friends and neighbors will have playground equipment in their backyard. Accidents can occur if this equipment is not maintained in a safe condition by the homeowner, or if the homeowner fails to exercise reasonable care in supervising young children using the equipment. This type of liability is known as premises liability.

In addition, many playground accidents occur due to defects with the equipment itself. If your backyard playground equipment is poorly designed or malfunctions, the manufacturer could be held liable under product liability law and you and your family could have a case.

The following are common causes of defective playground equipment accidents:

  • Negligent playground design
  • Poor maintenance or construction
  • Inadequate warning signs
  • Inadequate ground cushioning
  • Exposed hardwood
  • Entrapment hazards
  • Poorly anchored equipment
  • Ladder defects
  • Loose screws or fasteners

Playground equipment manufacturers have the responsibility of making a product available for the general public that is NOT dangerous, defective, harmful, or otherwise unsafe to use and does not meet the standards for safety. The responsible parties liable can include the company that made or produced the product, the maker of parts for a product, and/or the store that ultimately sold the product to consumers.

There are three main types of product liability claims:

  • Design Defect: A design defect occurs when the original design of a product contains a defect that makes it unsafe. For example, if a coffee cup was designed so that the bottom melted whenever hot liquid was poured inside of it, thereby burning whoever was holding the cup, it would fall under the category of a design defect.
  • Manufacturing Defect: A product can be labeled with a manufacturing defect if the products design was sound, but an error was made in the production process which resulted in an unsafe product. For example, if a desk was manufactured without several of the screws which were required to hold it together, but those screws were originally in the design blueprint, the product would fall into the category of a manufacturing defect.
  • Warning Defect: Manufacturers have a duty to provide warnings that offer foreseeable dangers that may be associated with the use or misuse of any given product. If a product does not come with sufficient warnings or instructions to prevent dangers associated with its use, and an injury occurs, the product falls under the category of a warning defect. For example, if a lawnmower did not come with instructions on how to clean the discharge shoot, with nothing warning that there is a sharp blade inside of it, and an injury is sustained from the blade, this would qualify as a warning defect.

A piece of playground equipment could be improperly designed, poorly manufactured, or lack proper warnings, leading to dangerous or deadly accidents. If this happens, the manufacturer could be liable for any injuries or damages.

Keep Your Family Playing Safely

If your little one suffers an injury because of broken, defective, or faulty backyard playground equipment, the child injury attorneys at Wagner Reese have years of experience in helping families just like yours. Call us for a risk-free assessment of your case: (888) 204-8440.


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