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Caution tape around the most dangerous playground equipment. | Colling Gilbert Wright

What Is the Most Dangerous Playground Equipment?

When considering the safety of children on playgrounds, it’s essential to be aware of the most dangerous playground equipment and the potential hazards associated with them. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 206,700 children under the age of 16 visit the emergency room each year due to playground-related injuries.

We allow, even encourage, our precious children to exercise and enjoy themselves at the playground. It is terrifying to think that this source of fun can also cause harm to our little ones. Awareness of the potential issues, some precautions to take, and knowing how to handle an injury should it occur are imperative.

Understanding the most dangerous playground equipment will help you troubleshoot your child’s play. However, if your child is injured on a playground, you will benefit from the assistance of a dedicated and knowledgeable premises liability lawyer. We will help find the party or parties responsible and pursue compensation for your losses. Call Colling Gilbert Wright today at (407) 712-7300 for a FREE consultation.

Most Dangerous Playground Equipment

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), nearly 80% of playground injuries are caused by falls. Falls, of course, can happen while climbing, swinging, sliding, and more. At public playgrounds, climbing apparatuses were responsible for most injuries. At home playgrounds, the swings were the most common culprit. More than 20,000 children a year are treated for a traumatic brain injury like a concussion.

While all playground equipment requires appropriate supervision and safety measures, some equipment has been associated with a higher incidence of injuries.


Swings are a staple of almost every playground, loved by children of all ages. However, swings are associated with a significant proportion of playground-related injuries. The momentum and height that a swing can achieve may lead to falls, especially if children jump off or are standing on the swing. There’s also a risk of being struck by a swing if a child walks in front or behind it. 

Ensuring swings are set a proper distance apart and are in good working condition can help to reduce these risks. Supervision, teaching children to use the swings correctly, and providing age-appropriate swing options can also make a difference in safety.

Heavy, animal-figure swings are some of the most dangerous. They have caused severe injury and death, and widespread removal has occurred. Additionally, glider swings that hold more than one child at a time have been deemed dangerous.

When teaching kids how to use equipment safely, remind them how to use the swing properly. Your child should always remain sitting while swinging, never swing with more than one child on the same swing, and never jump off a moving swing.

Climbing Equipment

Monkey bars, climbing ropes, and rock walls are just a few examples of climbing equipment found in many playgrounds. While these apparatuses are excellent for developing strength and coordination, they are also responsible for a significant number of injuries.

As stated above, falls from height are a primary concern, with broken bones being a common injury. Many playground safety experts recommend ensuring the surface under climbing equipment is soft enough to cushion falls and limiting the height of climbing apparatuses.

Additionally, free-swinging ropes should be removed or avoided. They can unravel, fray, or loop becoming dangerous not just for falls but as a strangulation hazard.

Trapeze Bars & Exercise Rings

Though trapeze bars and exercise rings are a terrific workout for kids, they are better used in a place with constant supervision. Falls from the equipment are common. Wrenching injuries that result in dislocations and broken bones can also result from unsupervised use.

Using these types of equipment in a gymnastics program where your child is taught proper use and supervised by a coach is ideal. On a playground, the chances are that kids will utilize the equipment for something other than its intended purpose, increasing their chance of injury.


While not traditionally seen as playground equipment, trampolines are increasingly found in public play spaces. They are known to cause a high number of injuries due to falls, awkward landings, or collisions between children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against the recreational use of trampolines. They recommend their use only in supervised training programs for professional athletes. It may be hard to keep children off of trampolines. There are entire fun parks dedicated to trampoline play. However, supervision and clear safety precautions are vital to avoid serious injury.


Slides can pose a danger, particularly to young children. Improper use of slides (sliding headfirst or climbing up the slide surface) can cause accidents. Moreover, if a child’s clothing or accessories get caught, it could lead to a fall or strangulation.

Younger children may not have the physical coordination to use slides safely, so adult assistance and supervision are necessary. During hot weather, slide surfaces can heat up and cause burns.


While not as common as they used to be due to safety concerns, merry-go-rounds can still be found in some playgrounds. They can be dangerous due to their spinning motion, which can cause dizziness and lead to falls. Children can get their limbs caught underneath or be flung off if the merry-go-round spins too fast.

Seesaws & Teeter-Totters

Seesaws and teeter-totters can pose risks, primarily due to the potential for falls and pinching of fingers or hands. The seesaw seat may also hit children if the other child gets off suddenly. However, even with guidelines for making these types of equipment safer, like embedding tires in the ground under the seats, most seesaws and teeter-totters have been removed from public and private playgrounds because of the perception of danger.

Common Playground-Related Injuries

Bumps, bruises, and scrapes are common on playgrounds, sometimes indicative of a particularly exciting day of play. However, some playground injuries are more severe. Some common playground-related injuries that may require a trip to the doctor or hospital are:

  • Broken bones
  • Dislocations
  • Lacerations
  • Sprains & strains
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Concussions

Though terrible to think of, some deaths have occurred while using playground equipment. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reports that 147 children 14 or younger died from playground-related injuries over a 10-year timespan. 82 of those deaths were strangulations, and 31 were falls. “While most playground injuries occur on public playground swings and climbing equipment, 70% of deaths occurred on home playgrounds.”

Who May Be Liable for Your Losses?

Depending on the circumstances of the accident and injury, there are a few different ways you may be able to pursue compensation for your losses. These include:

Premises Liability

City or park authorities, the school district, and the owners of other playgrounds could be liable for an accident on their premises.

Product Liability

If the playground equipment was defective in some way, you might have a product liability claim. The designer, manufacturer, or seller (among others) could be liable for the injuries to your child.

Read More: Are Product Liability Cases Strict Liability?

Negligent Supervision

When you entrust your child to the supervision of a third party (babysitter, another parent, teacher, daycare worker, camp counselor, etc.) and they fail to provide adequate oversight, you may have a case of negligent supervision.

How to Protect Your Child from the Most Dangerous Playground Equipment

A crucial factor in reducing playground injuries is providing appropriate supervision. Many accidents occur due to misuse of the equipment or lack of understanding of the risks involved. The NSC recommends that kids are strongly supervised, that equipment and ground surfaces are checked for potential hazards, and that children use age-appropriate equipment. It is also important to teach them safe behaviors for using the equipment.

To avoid strangulation hazards, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids shouldn’t “wear or play with anything that could get caught on equipment and become a strangulation hazard.” No one should attach a rope, pet leash, jump rope, or other hazard to playground equipment. Don’t allow your child to wear a sweatshirt with a drawstring, necklace, or helmet when playing at the playground.

Regular maintenance of playground equipment is vital to prevent malfunctions or degradation that could lead to accidents. In addition, implementing safety measures such as shock-absorbing surfaces under equipment, guardrails for elevated surfaces, and ensuring equipment is spaced out to prevent overcrowding can significantly improve playground safety.

Why Should You Call the Lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright?

While all playground equipment has the potential to cause harm if not used correctly or if in disrepair, some pieces of equipment are associated with a higher risk of injury. Understanding these risks and implementing safety measures can help reduce the likelihood of playground injuries. However, it’s crucial to remember that no piece of equipment can be considered entirely safe without proper supervision, regular maintenance, and adherence to safety guidelines.

If your child was injured in a playground accident, you are probably scared and devastated. Now is the time to contact the lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright. We can guide you through the process and handle the legal ins and outs while you focus your energy on helping your little one heal.

Accidents can happen at any time and on any apparatus, not just the most dangerous playground equipment. You will need help to establish what party or entity’s negligence led to this event. Our lawyers have the compassion and experience to seek the justice and compensation you deserve. We represent clients in Orlando and all of Florida.

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