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Playground Signs: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the hazards associated with playgrounds?

A.

Following are the most common hazards on a playground:

  • - Fall Hazard - Inadequate space under and surrounding play equipment and high platforms without barriers can lead to falls.
  • - Crush and Shear Points - These are present at the juncture of two or more large playground components with relative movement towards each other and lack optimum clearance. 
  • - Entanglement or Impalement - This could be a piece of equipment that can snag a child's hair or coat, entangling and/or choking them.
  • - Entrapment - Gaps or openings that can cause the head, neck, fingers, hands, ankles, or knees to get stuck. 
  • - Improper Surface: Rocks, grass, gravel, cement, brick, and stone are hazardous playground ground surfaces.
  • - Sharp Points, Corners, or Edges: Bolts, S-shaped hooks, protruding objects can cut or puncture a child's skin.
  • - Tripping - Cracked sidewalks, ripped groundcovers, broken pieces of equipment, concrete, and wood are all tripping hazards.
  • - Suspended Hazards - A cable or rope 7 feet high and less than 45 degrees in angle
  • - Inadequate supervision - No adult supervising the child on the playground is also a hazard.

Q. Are landowners liable for injuries on playgrounds?

A.

It depends on case to case. Landowners can be held liable for injuries on the playground if they do not inspect, repair, or remove any known or discoverable hazard within a reasonable time. Suppose repair or removal is impossible or impractical. In that case, landowners are required to provide an adequate warning of hazards on the premises in the form of Playground Warning Signs, unless the general scope of the risk would be open and obvious through the reasonable use of one’s senses. However, injuries due to obvious hazards like falling from heights would not be considered a fault of the landowner. The specific laws surrounding playgrounds differ by state, and you should consult a local lawyer to know who is liable. 

Q. Is it required to label playground equipment?

A.

Yes, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires play equipment to be labeled for age-appropriateness. Although a visual inspection can often determine the age-appropriateness of playground equipment, there are exceptions. Therefore, CPSC and the ASTM “Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specifications for Playground Equipment for Public Use” directs playground manufacturers to follow safety guidelines by dividing children into three age groups: a) 0-23 months b) 2-5 years, and c) 5-12 years. Also, entanglement warning labels should be provided on slides and other playground equipment where drawstrings, scarves, or mittens can get stuck.

Q. Are dogs allowed in children's playgrounds?

A.

Dogs are mostly NOT allowed in children’s playgrounds unless otherwise noted. This decision varies from one playground to another, and an exception is usually made for service animals or assistance dogs. Due to the risks of allergies, infections, and biting, most playgrounds prohibit dogs inside the playground by posting No Pets in Playground Signs. However, if it is allowed, there are certain requirements set for dog owners, like keeping the pet on a leash, cleaning up after them, and always supervising their act. For example- Arizona requires that a dog be "physically restrained by a leash, enclosed in a car, cage or similar enclosure" at a public school or park ( A. R. S. § 11-1012 ).

Q. How to ensure safety in playgrounds?

A.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has a handbook on playground safety, and The National Program for Playground Safety has its own list of hazards that can be removed to ensure safety in playgrounds. Some of these measures are:

  • - All raised platforms should have guardrails between 2 and 4 feet high
  • - Kids must engage in age-appropriate activities
  • - The surface beneath equipment should be surrounded by six feet of shock-absorbent material like shredded rubber, wood chips, mulch, or sand.
  • - Sharp objects and edges should be covered.
  • - There should be sufficient spacing between play equipment to prevent crowding.

Q. What are the types of signs required in playgrounds?

A.

Following are the types of playground signs recommended in different sections of both CPSC and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM):

- Hot Surface Warning:Hot Warning Labels are required for playground equipment or surfaces that get so hot due to direct sunlight that it creates a burn hazard. Such labels advise parents or caregivers to test the surfaces of slides, swings, and other equipment before allowing the child to play on them.

- Strangulation Warning: The agencies also require strangulation warning labels. Loose clothing, drawstrings, necklaces, straps, and other parts can get stuck in the equipment. Labels advise parents and caregivers to remove any strangulation hazards before allowing on the equipment.

- Supervision Advisory: Sign with the language “Adult Supervision Is Recommended” reminds visitors that your playground is not intended for unsupervised play.

- Age Range of Equipment Users: Supervisors should look for posted signs indicating the appropriate age of the users and direct children to equipment appropriate for their age. The four age groups for which labels are recommended are:- 6-23 months, 2-5 years, 2-12 years, and 5-12 years. 

- Surfacing Warnings: Equipment installed on a hard surface should carry a surfacing warning alerting parents to the risk of injuries from falls.

Q. Where should signs be posted in the playgrounds?

A.

Playground Signs must be posted in locations where they are readily noticeable and alert the playground users and visitors in time to take any action if needed. Entrances are a good location for general rules and playground hours. 

For specific information and warnings, signs can be mounted directly to the equipment (in the form of labels) or posted on signposts within the playground but outside of the use zone (the surface under and around the playground equipment onto which a child could fall).

Trees, bushes, and other plants should be trimmed so they do not block the view of signs in the playground.

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