Home Playground Equipment Safety

Home playground equipment safety depends on:
  • the site where the equipment is located
  • the developmental appropriateness of the equipment for the children using it
  • the quality of the equipment
  • supervision of children using the equipment
Playground Equipment Site

The site for playground equipment in the yard should have the following characteristics:

  • far enough away from walls and fences
  • clear of electrical wires
  • level
  • enough room for the various pieces of equipment to be well-spaced
  • prepared according to the equipment manufacturer’s instructions

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recommended 12 inches (30.48 cm) of a cushioning product (wood chips, bark, sand, mulch, or mats made of rubber that have been safety tested) to lessen the impact of falls. Such material should extend 6 feet (1.82 m) in all directions beyond the playground equipment.

Particularly in areas with harsh climates in which outdoor play may be limited in the winter, some people choose to have appropriate playground equipment indoors. Rules concerning equipment safety indoors is very similar to rules for the outdoors. Having a soft landing area is necessary even for equipment that is installed indoors.

Playground Equipment Appropriateness

The child should have the size, weight, and dexterity necessary to use the equipment. If the equipment is not appropriate for the child in any of these three ways, it may not be safe. You can keep an eye on equipment safety by limiting the particular equipment included and the height. One approach is to start with a smaller set that takes additions as the child grows.

Children should not walk around in the playground area until they can follow equipment safety rules such as avoiding the swing area when someone is swinging; not standing in front of the slide when someone is coming down; and taking turns.

Caring for Playground Equipment

Here are some hints for playground equipment care:


  • Sandboxes and kiddie pools should have covers, in order to keep animals from using it as litter box or water hole, and most importantly to keep children safe from drowning.
  • Check the equipment regularly for loose or missing hardware and solid connections.
  • Check the site, making sure that the cushioning material is still properly spread.

Equipment Safety Standards

Look for a seal of approval from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Playground equipment is rated for age groups (6 months to 2 years; 2 to 5 years; and 5 to 12 years), so make sure to check carefully.


Playground equipment has been recalled due to: breaking swing straps, breaking swing seats, defective bolts, beams becoming disconnected, etc. Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission web site for details about playground equipment recalls.

Written by Mary Elizabeth