(HealthDay News) -- Playing at the playground is a rite of passage, but it doesn't come without risks.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hospital emergency departments see more than 20,000 children aged 14 and younger for playground-relatedtraumatic brain injurieseach year.
The National Safety Council offers these suggestions for evaluating a playground:
- Check out ground surfaces, which should be at least 12 inches deep and made of wood chips, mulch, wood fiber, sand, pea gravel or rubber mats.
- The area under and near equipment where a child might fall should be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions.
- Beware of hardware that could injure a child. Examples include bolts, hooks and rungs.
- Also watch for things that could catch on clothing. Children should never wear drawstring hoodies at the playground.
- To avoid trapping your child's head, there should be no openings that measure between 3 1/2 and 9 inches.
- Swings should be set far enough away from other equipmentthat kids won't be hit by a moving swing.
- Children under age 4 shouldn't play on climbing equipment or horizontal ladders.
- Spring-loaded seesaws are best for young kids. Avoid adjustable seesaws with chains because kids can crush their hands under the chains.
- Avoid metal or wooden swing seats in favor of softer materials.
- Watch for sharp edgeson equipment.