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Are playgrounds a hazard to children's health?

Could your child be at risk of harm from dangerous playground equipment?

It might be likely, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that annually nearly 200,000 kids get treatment in emergency rooms in hospitals all over the U.S. for injuries related to playground equipment. Even more frightening, an average of 15 children die due to these injuries that occur on playgrounds. Most injuries happen from falls, but the greatest number of deaths are from strangulation, the CPSC reports.

Many parks and playgrounds around New York City are hazards for the children that flock to them year-round. Research done here in NYC revealed that playgrounds with zip codes in low-income areas had higher rates of maintenance-related hazards than those playgrounds in areas where the residents had higher incomes. Some dangers that were present were rusty play equipment, damaged fall surfaces and lots of trash.

Public playgrounds have industry standards that are applicable, but to the dismay of many parents and children's advocates, no federal regulations are in place for playgrounds.

Roughly 45 percent of playground injuries are considered to be severe, and include the following:

-- Concussions

-- Broken bones

-- Dislocations

-- Amputations

-- Internal injuries

Approximately 75 percent of the nonfatal injuries from playground equipment happen on public playgrounds at daycare centers and schools. In the span of one decade, 147 kids younger than 15 died from injuries that occurred on playground equipment. Over half, 56 percent, or 82, died by strangulation, while another 20 percent, or 31, were killed in falls.

There's also a heavy cost associated with these injuries. In one year alone, children's playground-related injuries for those under 15 cost about $1.2 billion.

What recourse does a parent have if his or her child suffers injuries while playing on a public playground with hazardous conditions like broken equipment?

As first-line advocates for their children, parents can file premises liability litigation against the property owner(s) and those in charge of its maintenance.

Source: The Morning Journal, "Outdoor playground safety hazards abound," Betsy Scott, The News-Herald, accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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