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Parents Should Look for Hidden Playground Dangers

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CHAPEL HILL — When parents send a child to a neighborhood playground, they probably do so thinking the child is safe, but there are hidden dangers at some playgrounds that parents need to know about.

A safe playground is defined as one that has no spaces where a child could get his head trapped, has no play equipment within six feet of a fence, and plenty of surface material, such as sand, to cushion any fall that might occur.

TheU.S. Public Interest Research Groupreports that 63 percent of all playgrounds have dangerous equipment where children can get trapped. They also report that nearly all playgrounds in the state need more soft surface material.

Elizabeth Ball of U.S. PIRG says, "We found out that the overwhelming majority of [playgrounds] pose serious health hazards that can even be fatal -- things like head entrapment hazards and inadequate surface covering as well as dangerous, rigid swings that, if they hit children in the head, could cause serious injury."

The researchers looked at 760 playgrounds across the country, 27 of them in North Carolina. What they discovered is that most of the N.C. playgrounds scored below average in terms of safety.

Many playground owners will be working to upgrade their equipment and sites, but it will take some time. Until playgrounds can be brought up to standard, parents are urged to provide close supervision.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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