Injury Prevention Starts from the Ground Up
Cushion Falls With Protective Surfacing
Since almost 60 percent of all injuries are caused by falls to the ground, protective surfacing under and around all playground equipment is critical to reduce the risk of serious head injury. And because head impact injuries from a fall can be life threatening, the more shock absorbing a surface can be made, the less likely any injury will be severe.
Of course, all injuries due to falls cannot be prevented no matter what playground surfacing material is used.
What to Avoid
- Do NOT use concrete or asphalt. Falls on asphalt and concrete can result in serious head injury and death. Do not place playground equipment over these surfaces.
- Avoid grass and dirt. Grass and turf also lose their ability to absorb shock through wear and environmental conditions. Avoid earth surfaces such as soils and hard packed dirt. Always use protective surfacing.
What Should You Use?
- Loose-fill surfacing materials. These include double shredded bark mulch, shredded tires, wood chips, fine sand or fine gravel. The greater the depth, the greater the shock-absorption. Loose-fill materials should not be installed over hard surfaces such as asphalt or concrete.
- Manufactured synthetic surfaces. These include rubber or rubber over foam mats or tiles, poured-in-place urethane and rubber compositions. The initial cost is higher but less maintenance is required. Be sure to ask the manufacturer for test data on shock absorption. Some materials require installation over a hard surface while others do not.
How Much Should You Use?
If using loose-fill material at home, maintain a constant depth of at least six inches of material. Nine or 12 inches is recommended. The cushioning benefits of fine sand and gravel increase at 12 inches, according to the CPSC.
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