Playground injuries involving children and young teens are frequent and serious. Although on a national basis more children are injured in automobile accidents on a yearly basis in the United States, the injuries sustained by children and young teens juveniles from playground accidents are much more likely to be severe. The CDC (National Centers For Disease Control and Prevention) estimated that over a half-million children under 15 years of age are injured annually across the nation in playgrounds. As a result of these playground accidents, over 200,000 children sustain injuries that require a visit to an emergency room each year. During the decade of 1990 to 2000, the CDC reported that there were almost one-hundred and fifty (147) deaths to children under fifteen years of age as a result of accidents that take place on a playground.
Playground Injury Statistics
Sone of the most useful statistics to look at when discussing playground injuries to children across the USA are the reports provided by the CPSC (U.S. Consumer and Product Safety Commission) covering the period 2001 through 2014. It is important to note that the CPSC actually published three reports. The first report was a broad analysis regarding playground equipment fatalities in 2000. The next report covered the years 2001-2008 and the third report covered the years 2009-2014. The CPSC reports provide us with significant insights into the injuries and deaths associated with the actual playground equipment. Additionally, although these reports are likely the most intensive investigation and documentation of the playground accidents that has ever been undertaken, the reports may not fully reflect the extent of danger associated with playgrounds because these reports only cover those playground accidents that were actually reported to the CPSC and then investigated by the federal agency. The number of actual playground accidents resulting in injuries to children under the age of 15 may actually be significantly higher.
During the fifteen year period covered by the reports, the CPSC investigated a total of 74 juvenile deaths that occurred in playgrounds and that were associated with the playground equipment. It is significant to note that during the fifteen year period of 2000 to 2014 there were actually a total of 198 deaths, but the reports only included the results from the 74 fatalities that the department investigated. The department’s staff broke the fatalities down into the following statistical categories: Location, Cause of Death, Age and Sex, Hazard Pattern and Type of Equipment.
Location of Playground Accidents
– Home: 58%
– Restaurant: 25%
– Park : 6%
– School: 3%
– Day Care: 3%
– Apartment: 1%
– Other : 4%
By far the majority of deaths associated with playground equipment occurred at a private residence or home. Perhaps not surprisingly, the second most common location of these injuries was documented to be restaurants with playground equipment. The CPSC staff concluded that this was due to two factors:
1. A greater lack of supervision of the children and a direct relationship between unsupervised activities and accidents that took place at both private homes and restaurants.
2. Improper equipment setup and maintenance by unqualified individuals (especially as seen at private residences and homes).
The lower percentage of occurrences documented at parks, schools and day care facilities was indicative of both greater supervision of the juveniles while using the equipment, plus the utilization of trained professionals to both assemble and perform regular and proper maintenance of the playground equipment.
Cause of Death
Of the 74 juvenile fatalities that occurred in playgrounds and were associated with the playground equipment, the following were determined to be the cause of death (as determined from the death certificates):
– Hanging and Asphyxiation: 63% (a total of 46)
– Head or Neck Injuries: 21% (a total of 15)
– Other: 17% (a total of 13)
Age and Sex
- The average age of a fatality was five (5) years old.
- 47% of the children were under 5 years of age.
- 41% were children aged 5 – 9 years old.
- Very little differences in the child’s sex were noted, with males comprising roughly 51% and females 49% of all victims. This is similar to the CDC’s finding that girls sustain injuries at playgrounds at a slightly increased incidence as compared to boys (55% girls versus 45% boys).
The CPSC grouped the 74 juvenile fatalities into six (6) classes of what were termed as “Hazard Patterns”. These were as follows (with their associated incidence percentages):
1. Equipment Related: 56%
These included equipment breakage, tip-overs, poor design, and poor assembly and/or maintenance.
2. Fall: 30%
These included all falls by the youths from the playground equipment, or into/onto the equipment.
3. Collisions: 5%
These included the fatalities associated with or incurred by the juveniles colliding into the equipment or other children.
4. Entrapment: 5%
5. Incidental or other: 4%
The CPSC then grouped the playground fatalities tied to the equipment into “type of equipment” categories. These were as follows (with their associated incidence percentages):
1. Swings: 48%
These included seesaws, Teeter Totters, glider swings, rope and/or tire swings.
2. Slides: 22%
3. Climbers and Monkey Bars: 14%
4. Steps: 5%
5. Platform: 4%
6. Others or Non-specified: 7% These included sandboxes, zip-lines, Merry-Go-Rounds, inflatable bouncers, plus all that were “unknown or non-classified”.
What is perhaps important to note from these findings is that they differ greatly from the CDC’s statistics regarding equipment and playground accidents. While the CDC reported that on “public playgrounds more injuries occur on climbers than on any other equipment”, the CPSC statistics clearly show that more fatalities result from accidents involving swings and sliders as compared with all other categories of playground equipment. The conclusion that the CPSC noted was that, although the CDC numbers show that climbers are most often involved in playground injuries to children, those accidents involving swings and sliders are more likely to lead to a death due to the type of equipment involved in the playground accident.
What To Do If A Child Is Injured In A Playground Accident
Although fatalities from playground accidents are obviously devastating, numerous other injuries to children also occur. Of the annual average of roughly 220,000 emergency room visits to children under 15 years of age, the following are the estimated “type of injury” percentages that are treated in emergency rooms across the nation each year:
– Fractures: 35%
– Contusions & Abrasions: 19%
– Lacerations: 18%
– Strains & Sprains: 17%
– Internal Organ Injuries: 8%
– Concussions: 2%
– Dental Injuries: 1%
An important statistic to take note of is that the CDC reported that an estimated 45% of all playground related injuries are considered severe (resulting in fractures, concussions, internal injuries and dislocations). As the statistics clearly show, a playground is a place where our children are meant to have fun, yet they can be a very dangerous, and even a deadly place under certain circumstances and conditions. Never allow children to play unsupervised at a playground, especially at your home or while at a restaurant (where the above statistics show that 83% of all playground related juvenile fatalities occur). We cannot stress enough that everyone in charge of caring for children always take every precaution possible when they are are in a playground, especially those with a concrete or blacktop surface.
If an injury on a playground does occur, there are some things you can do to help.
– First make sure that the child is cared for. Treatment of their injuries is the most important step you can take. If medical attention is required, take them as quickly as possible to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center. As is the case with all accident injuries, if you are in doubt regarding the seriousness of the injury, let a medical professional decide. It is always better to err on the side of safety, especially when children are injured.
– Take pictures and or videos, if you are able, of the scene where the child was injured. Sometimes scenes change and documenting the evidence is always extremely helpful. Use the camera in your phone if you are able to do so.
– Obtain the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident or the child’s injury.
– Look for any signs or posted warnings advising that children using the playground must be supervised at all times. Take pictures and/or videos of the entire playground area and include any warning signs or, more importantly, the lack of any warning signs in the playground area.
-If you are at a business that has a play area for children, such as a fast food restaurant, try to find and keep your receipt. Some restaurants print warnings right on the receipts that may attempt to pass on the responsibility for supervision of the children and kids on the playground area to their customers.
– If you were required to sign a form before your children were allowed to enter the playground area, make sure that you try to obtain a copy of the signed form, as it may contain verbiage to attempt to avoid responsibility for the child’s injuries.
– Make note, and take pictures or video if possible, of any items that appear to be surveillance cameras that may have been recording the activity in the playground when the child was injured.
-If one of your children is injured at a playground run by a business, such as a fast food restaurant, you may be asked to fill out an injury or incident report if you report it to the restaurant’s management. You should clearly write on the report that you are demanding that the business keep, retain and not erase or record over any video that may have been taped and recorded at the time that the incident occurred.
– Consider contacting an experienced playground injury attorney.
Remember that every situation is unique. Yet the bottom line in any type of accident situation is to Document, Document, Document! Although everyone hopes that their child will never be injured in a playground accident, we advise that you take as many pictures or videos as possible to document both the area where the injury happened as well as the condition of the playground and its equipment. Write on the incident report that you are demanding that the business make sure to preserve any video recordings of the accident. Documentation can be the key between successfully establishing the truth about an accident situation versus the old “he-said-she-said” scenarios seen in the past.
Florida Playground Accident Lawyer
At the Law Office of Mark A. Risi, our Orlando personal injury attorneys will go to work for you to obtain the compensation that you deserve if you or a family member is injured in a playground accident. Our experienced attorneys have handled numerous cases throughout Florida and the Central Florida area that involved injuries to children from accidents that occurred in playgrounds. We would be honored to help you with your case. If your child is the unfortunate victim of a playground injury, we may be able to help. For a free case evaluation, call us today at (407) 423-1313 or contact us online now for a free consultation without any obligation.