Built Playgrounds

Community

Built playgrounds have equipment such as swings, slides, and climbing bars. 

  • Check the playground
    • Playgrounds should have a deep, soft surface instead of one with a dirt or grass surface. Sand, pea gravel, wood chips, rubber crumb, or soft rubber mats are some good examples. It should be 15 to 30 cm (six to 12 inches) deep.
    • Make sure it has good handrails, barriers and railings to prevent falls.
    • Watch out for areas where your child's head or neck could get stuck. Spaces might be big enough for your child’s body but might trap his head or neck. This could strangle your child. Safe spaces are smaller than nine cm (3.5 inches) and larger than 22.5 cm (nine inches). Places to check include the spaces between the steps on a slide and spaces between railings.
    • Watch out for sharp objects. Look for broken glass, garbage, sharp edges, and bolts that stick out. Pick up any glass or garbage before your child plays. If your child is old enough, teach him to stay away from sharp edges or bolts.

Backyard

  • Properly anchor purchased or homemade playground equipment. 
    • Home playground equipment is often lighter than public playground equipment so it needs to be restrained to prevent tip-over or collapse. 
    • Check the manufacturer's guide for proper anchoring instructions. Anchors should be covered or hidden to avoid becoming a tripping hazard.
  • A deep, soft surface can protect against injuries from falls. 
    • A deep, soft surface will cushion falls and prevent many injuries. 
    • Provide a loose-fill surface, such as sand or wood chips, of 15 to 30 centimetres (six to 12 inches) deep under swings, climbers and slides to cushion falls. Higher equipment needs deeper surfacing.
  • Prevent falls. 
    • Make sure equipment has guardrails or barriers to prevent falls. The CSA Standard recommends barriers on equipment higher than 75 cm (30 inches) that is used by preschoolers and barriers on equipment higher than 120 cm (four feet) for children five years and older. 
    • Try to keep higher equipment out of reach of children five years and younger; for example, remove the lowest rung of ladders to keep toddlers from climbing.
  • Space around equipment. 
    • The CSA Standard recommends that there be 1.8 metres (six feet) between any two pieces of play equipment, as well as between equipment and fencing or other structures. Swings and slides require even more space. 
    • Many backyards will not allow this much space, so you may need to adjust your design. Keep spacing in mind when you plan your yard and playground.
  • Remove or repair areas that can catch children's clothing. 
    • Children have died from strangulation when their clothing, or ropes they were playing with, became entangled in equipment. 
    • Pay close attention to areas where clothes may be caught, including: the top of slides, S-shaped hooks on swings, the joints of climbers and nearby fencing.
  • Inspect your backyard playground regularly
    • Make repairs or remove broken equipment. Look for signs of wear, splintering or cracks. 
    • Check that bolts are tight and equipment is still well anchored. 
    • Check the depth of surfacing, and rake it to keep the surfacing loose and remove debris. Add more surfacing where necessary.
  • Supervise actively. For children younger than five years, stay close to children as they play. Be ready to catch them when they are on equipment. And keep an eye on older children too; they like to take chances, but do not necessarily understand risks.

Other standards for Backyard Play Structures

  • For backyard and indoor settings, equipment manufacturers and installers often refer to standards published in the United States by the American Society for Testing and Materials(ASTM). ASTM has a voluntary standard for home playgrounds called Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Home Playground Equipment (ASTM/F1148-05).
  • Many ready-for-assembly play sets that are sold in Canada and the United States comply with ASTM safety standards. If you are buying outdoor playground equipment, look for a set that complies with the ASTM standard. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe installation.