- ADA: The Americans With Disabilities Act was introduced in 1996 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. The Access Board provides guidelines for playgrounds to ensure kids of all abilities can enjoy their time at play.
- ASTM: The American Society for Testing and Materials is an international consumer safety organization. Their guidelines govern the materials used in playground equipment, making sure it’s safe and long-lasting.
- CPSC: The Consumer Products Safety Commission is an agency of the U.S. government. It provides regulation for the manufacture and sale of playground equipment and acts as another consumer watchdog for product quality and safety.
- IPEMA: The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association is a third-party certification body for both play equipment and surfacing materials. They provide services for equipment in the U.S. and Canada.
- Entanglement: This is any time a kid’s clothes or something around their neck gets caught on any piece of equipment.
- Entrapment: This is when a kid gets any body part stuck in equipment, such as a railing, and can’t withdraw the body part from the opening.
- Fall height: This measures the distance between protective playground surfacing and a structure’s tallest designated play surface.
- Safety zone and use zone: These are the places designed for kids to move around safely and use the equipment. They are often interchangeable.
- Fall zone: The surfaces surrounding equipment where a kid is likely to land if they fall off or exit the equipment or structure.
Ages: 6 months – 23 months
Play areas for children 6 months through 23 months should offer places where children can have space to move and explore. Appropriate play areas for this group should provide places to crawl, stand, and walk.
Ages: 2-5 years
Play areas for children ages 2-5 should offer areas with smaller steps and crawl spaces. Appropriate play areas for children ages 2 – 5 could include: areas to crawl; low platforms with multiple access such as ramps and ladders; ramps with pieces attached for grasping; low tables for sand, water and manipulation of materials; tricycle paths with various textures; flexible spring rockers; sand areas with covers; and shorter slides (usually no taller than 4 feet).
Ages: 5-12 years
Developmentally appropriate play areas for school-age children could include: rope or chain climbers on angles; climbing pieces; horizontal bars; cooperative pieces such as tire swings, slides and sliding poles; and open spaces to run and play ball.