Critical Fall Height in Playground Safety

What You Should Know About Critical Fall Height in Playground Safety


Were you aware that over 200,000 kids are brought to the hospital due to playground injuries? Studies show that around 15 playground injuries are deadly each year.


Suppose you intend to convert some of your backyard areas to a playground for your kids. In that case, you should strongly consider adhering to the critical fall height industry standards while constructing playground equipment to ensure your children's safety.


This article intends to help you understand everything you should consider concerning critical fall height regarding the safety of your playground. Keep the following items in mind to create a safe playground for your children.





How tall is the critical fall height?


Safety experts use the phrase critical fall height to describe the lowest height at which a person has tripped or fallen while catching their fall using their hands. This height varies from person to person based on available gender and size.


The significant injury occurs at critical fall heights and obviously higher altitudes. It is determined by the most elevated piece of equipment a child can stand on during play.


ASTM defines American Standard Testing Fall height methods as the vertical span between a chosen recreation surface and the protecting surface underneath it.




What is the significance of critical fall height?


Shock-absorbing surfaces, such as a rubber surface, can help prevent serious injuries caused by a fall from a critical fall height during recreation.


The critical height is proportional to the shock absorbency of the cover material underneath. Its objective is to compute the greatest fall height that would not result in a serious injury.


A surface's impact mitigation properties can be tested in a lab or playground. The critical fall height may therefore be calculated by combining the impact acceleration with the impact time, which is especially important in the case of head injuries.


According to the Consumer Safety and Product Commission, all playground surfaces must be covered with a protective rubber or rubber-like mat. Alternatively, at least 12 inches of wood chips, pea gravel, sand, or mulch should be applied.


However, remember that materials like wood chippings and bark might be blown out by high winds or decay quickly. As a result, there will be a considerable loss of surface material.


Also, do not make your playground surface out of pebbles, compacted soil, blacktop, concrete, asphalt, or grass.


The committee also recommended that the landing cover be constructed to stick out at least six feet from the recreation structures. To prevent falls, to begin with, make sure that any ramps or platforms are equipped with barriers.


Furthermore, according to British Standards EN 1177:2008, if your playground equipment has a free fall height of more than 0.6m, you must have critical fall height approved flooring within a 1m radius surrounding the playground structures. It is advised that the fall height not exceed 3m.


If the critical fall height in the region is up to 1.5 meters, you should build 1.5 meters of safety surfacing around the play equipment. If the critical fall height is more than 1.5 meters around your play equipment, you can use the formula: Critical fall height of play equipment x 0.66 + 50cm.




How do you determine the critical fall height?


A head-form (a head-shaped gadget with an integrated accelerometer) will be dropped on top of a playground surface sample. The hardness and speed with which it strikes the substance will then be recorded. The test is duplicated from various elevations. Based on these altitudes, you may calculate the thickness required for each system's protection.


Criteria for measuring fall height


The critical fall height will vary based on the playground equipment used.


If playground equipment's fall height is 8 feet and you use rubber mulch, the critical fall height should be six inches deep.


The depth should be 3.5 inches if you're utilizing a poured-in-place rubber surface.


You can use the following list of fall height measuring parameters for various types of playground structures:


  • Structures for Climbing: The topmost section is designated for foot support.


  • Composite Equipment with Connected Components: Measure the highest selected play surface to the protected surface.


  • Upper Body Structures: Use the highest section of the equipment.


  • See-Saws: Take the seat's maximum height when the seesaw is in use.


  • Swing Sets: Use the pivot point for swing sets.


  • Spring Rockets: Take seat height into consideration when measuring.




Removing Misconceptions


It is a common misconception that cushioned rugs or foam matting will provide adequate safeguard from fall-related injuries. Your children are at significant risk of serious injury unless the surface has been evaluated and fulfills industry requirements for Critical Fall Height.




Why should you go for rubber surfacing for your playground?


The Consumer Safety and Product Commission suggests that the playground surface be covered with a rubber mat. The material provides excellent fall protection and aids in preventing catastrophic injuries.


The harshness of a fall is determined by the child's fall height and the opposition of the cover on which they land. According to 2000 research, children who fall from five feet or more of height are twice as likely to be critically harmed than children who fall from a lower height.


Similarly, children who fall and the ground on grass, packed earth, or concrete surfaces are more likely to sustain severe injuries than children who slip and land on rubber surfaces.


Rubber mats are also suggested because they have non-slip textures, are easy to preserve, absorb shock, are eco-friendly, adaptable, and last a long time.



Finishing Touches


Depending if you are building a public park or a backyard play area, critical fall height is an important issue to contemplate. And it would be best if you started from the beginning.


Your play area should, without question, be exciting and enjoyable, but safety should always come before anything else. Understanding the significance of critical fall height and installing rubber surfacing on the playground will protect your youngster from a significant injury.


When constructing a safe playground area for your children, adhere to industry regulations to keep them safe.



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