Protecting Our Kids from Playground Injuries


Hey there, Cincinnati moms! We all know how much our kiddos love to play, especially at some of the fantastic children’s parks in our city. From the cultivated spaces of Lunken Playfield to the charming adventures at Highfield Discovery Garden, Cincinnati offers a playground for every age and interest. But as we watch our little ones explore these playgrounds, we can’t forget the importance of keeping them safe from serious injuries, including concussions. In this article, we’ll dive into the issue of playground safety and explore some of the popular children’s parks in Cincinnati.

How Safe is the Average Playground?

If you had a playground in the neighborhood where you grew up, you probably have some fun memories of zipping down slides or racing your friends across a set of monkey bars. With such pleasant memories to draw upon, it can be difficult to think for even a second that our children could get seriously hurt at a modern playground. In many respects, playgrounds have indeed gotten safer over the years. The standards for playground materials and flooring have evolved and are generally enforced vigorously, which does reduce the risk of serious injuries.

However, despite advances in construction methods and playground designs, the risk of serious injury or death remains. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) carried out a study in the mid-2010s that estimated that “1,459,201 injuries associated with playground equipment” occurred over a six-year span. Defective, unmaintained, or dangerous equipment was to blame for many of these injuries. 

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Safety Council (NSC) likewise indicate that there is a prevalent risk of injury for children. According to NSC data, over 200,000 children are sent to the hospital annually after suffering a playground injury. Although many of these hospital visits may be precautionary in nature, serious or even fatal injuries have occurred. Falls from height are a leading cause of injury, even when a playground has an appropriately soft surface to cushion children if they take a tumble. 

Can Someone Be Found Legally Liable for a Playground Injury?

In some cases, it’s possible that a negligent person or party could be responsible for injuries that occur at a playground. Generally speaking, litigation involving playground injuries falls under the broad category of “personal injury law.” There are a few different legal avenues that may potentially be pursued, depending on the details of the specific incident at hand.

  • Product liability is applicable if a dangerous or defective piece of equipment injured your child. The three primary types of product liability cases include failure to warn, design defect, and manufacturing defects. Playground equipment designers and manufacturers are required to provide reasonably safe equipment. They must also clearly state known dangers and hazards associated with the normal use of the equipment. 
  • Premises liability applies when an injury is caused by poor maintenance or an otherwise unsafe playground. If equipment is not properly maintained or the playground’s property owner does not take reasonable steps to make the area safe for children, they may be found legally liable for injuries that occur.

What Are the Most Dangerous Types of Playground Equipment?

When used incorrectly, almost any type of playground equipment can cause an injury. However, some specific types of equipment are particularly likely to cause injuries, including:

  • Trampolines: Particularly when they are not properly enclosed with a net, trampolines can be very dangerous. It is easy for a child to mistime their jump and fall off the trampoline, which can cause broken bones or a serious head injury.
  • Sandboxes and Ball Pits: It’s easy to think that sandboxes and ball pits are reasonably safe. There is little chance of a serious fall and there should not be any sharp or protruding objects. However, if sandboxes and ball pits are not cleaned frequently and efficiently, they can contain germs and bacteria. It’s possible to catch serious illnesses or diseases from playing in a dirty ball pit or sandbox.
  • Climbing Equipment: Anytime children are using equipment that requires them to climb, swing across bars, or hang upside down, there should be close adult supervision. A moment of inattention can result in a fall from serious height.
  • Metal Slides: Fortunately, most playgrounds have moved away from using metal slides. On hot days, metal playground equipment can heat up to dangerous levels. A study carried out by Fox Weather and the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Department found that a slide in the sun in Florida reached 160° Fahrenheit. A temperature of 162° or higher is capable of instantly destroying skin tissue. 

Concussions and Other Serious Playground Injuries

Playground accidents are more common than you might think. Falls, collisions, and other incidents can result in serious injuries, including concussions. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Concussions: These brain injuries can occur when a child falls and hits their head, or even when they experience a jolt to the body that causes the brain to move within the skull. The signs of a concussion may not always be obvious, so it’s crucial to be vigilant.
  • Common Causes: Playground accidents leading to concussions often happen during activities like climbing, running, or playing on equipment like swings and slides.
  • Prevention: While accidents can happen, there are steps we can take to reduce the risk of playground injuries. Proper supervision, age-appropriate play, and awareness of the park’s safety features are vital.

Popular Children’s Parks in Cincinnati

  • Land of Make-Believe: Immerse your child in fairytale wonder at Lunken Playfield. Whimsical castles, a miniature train, and airplanes flying in overhead offer an exciting experience for children of all ages.
  • West Fork Park Playland: This playground was carefully designed for children of all ages and abilities. It boasts innovative structures, sensory activities, and a giant spiderweb climber, creating a unique environment where nature intersects with adventure. 
  • Highfield Discovery Garden: Tucked within Glenwood Gardens, this 12-acre wonderland features interactive exhibits, themed gardens, and a treehouse village. Children can explore the wonders of nature in a safe, controlled environment. 

Playground Safety Tips for Cincinnati Moms

  • Supervision is Key: Always keep a watchful eye on your kids while they play. Engaging with them can be fun and educational, too!
  • Age-Appropriate Play: Encourage your children to use equipment suitable for their age and skill level. Some parks have separate areas for different age groups. In general, there are three categories including 6-23 months, 2-5 years, and 5-12 years. The categories are based on the size and ability of each age group. 
  • Safety Surfacing: Look for playgrounds with appropriate safety surfacing. Playgrounds that have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or rubber-like materials help to cushion falls. This is extremely important as falls account for almost 80% of playground injuries. Ensure to keep an eye out for exposed concrete footings, rocks, or tree stumps that cause safety hazards.
  • Report Safety Concerns: If you notice any issues with playground equipment or safety hazards, don’t hesitate to contact the Cincinnati Recreation Commission. They can be contacted at (513) 352-4000 by phone or online here. When reporting the issue, keep a note of the name of the park, date, time, and type of problem on the playground. 
  • Teach Your Kids: Educate your children about playground safety rules, like no roughhousing and being cautious on wet surfaces.

Protect Our Kids in Our Parks

We have a duty to protect our kids and keep them safe while they explore the wonderful playgrounds in the city. By following these playground safety tips and staying vigilant, we can reduce the risk of serious injuries like concussions. Enjoy your time at some of Cincinnati’s popular children’s parks, but always put safety first for your little ones. Happy playing!

Thank you to our guest writer!

Alana Redmond is a consumer safety writer for various online publications. She also works with Monge & Associates, a Cincinnati personal injury law firm that specializes in concussions and child injuries.


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