(Host) Vermont rates a C-minus in playground safety, according to a new study by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. VPIRG studied ten Vermont playgrounds for hazards that can lead to injuries or illness in children.
Surveyors looked for playground equipment that was too high or equipment that could snag on children’s clothing. They also looked at whether a playground’s surface would cushion the impact of a child’s fall. According to Zina Cary of VPIRG, it’s the overall surface that led to Vermont’s average grade in the report:
(Cary) “I think the most glaring, in terms of dangerous hazards to kids on playgrounds that we sampled in Vermont, is the surfacing. 100% of playgrounds that we sampled in Vermont had inadequate surfacing. We define adequate surfacing by at least nine inches of surface like pea gravel, mulch, sand, woodchips.”
(Host) Cary says that even when adequate surfacing is initially put down in a playground, it becomes compacted through use. According to Cary, continual upkeep and maintenance pose a financial problem for some schools and parks.
(Cary) “It costs money to create safe new playgrounds and costs money to fix old playgrounds that aren’t safe. So I think when you start talking about dollars and cents, that’s where is gets tough for people.”
(Host) Cary says that the Vermont legislature made important progress this session on the issue. The capital construction bill specifies that new school playgrounds in the state must meet consumer safety guidelines.