REPORT finds more fatalities in backyard playgrounds than public facilities for children

Thursday, August 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ More children die in accidents on backyard playgrounds than public ones, according to a government report that recommends safety measures for parents.

The biggest killers are rope swings and other cords that can cause strangulation, the Consumer Product Safety Commission found in a review released Thursday.

About 90 of the 147 playground deaths from 1990 through August 2000 occurred at home, the commission said. Three-fourths of home deaths were caused by ropes and half of all deaths involved them, the report found. Other causes were falls and equipment collapses.

In 1998 the commission revised playground safety standards and added new requirements for ropes.

Darell Hammond, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Kaboom!, said parents may have noticed public playgrounds getting safer and added: ``The sad fact is they have not been taking that information home.''

Parents should follow safety tips like adding wood chips or mulch to areas and diligently supervising youngsters, he said.

``You don't want your background playground to be like a television set. It's not a baby sitter,'' Hammond said.

The report covered accidents involving children under age 15. About 40 percent of children injured at home were under age 5, compared to about a third of those hurt on public playgrounds, it found.

Playground accidents are a leading cause of injuries to children. In 1999, more than 200,000 children suffered playground-equipment injuries, including about 47,000 on home playgrounds.

``Children should be out on the playground where they belong, not in the hospital emergency room,'' said Ann Brown, chairman of the commission.

The report also tracked nonfatal accidents. It found about half of all playground injuries to children under age 5 involved their head or face, compared to fewer than a third of older children.

The most common injury on manufactured equipment was a broken bone (39 percent), followed by a cut (22 percent), abrasion (20 percent) and sprain (11 percent), the commission said.

The report said parents should use at least 9 inches of mulch or shredded rubber for play equipment that is up to 7 feet high. They also should check for sharp edges or hooks on play sets and install protective surfacing at least 6 feet in all directions from equipment, the report said.