Caring for Our Children (CFOC)

Chapter 6: Play Areas/Playgrounds and Transportation

6.2 Play Area/Playground Equipment

6.2.1 General Requirements Entrapment Hazards of Play Equipment

All openings in pieces of play equipment should be designed too large for a child’s head to get stuck in or too small for a child’s body to fit into, in order to prevent entrapment and strangulation. Openings in exercise rings (overhead hanging rings such as those used in a ring trek or ring ladder) should be smaller than three and one-half inches or larger than nine inches in diameter. Rings on long chains are prohibited. A play structure should have no openings with a dimension between three and one-half inches and nine inches. In particular, side railings, stairs, and other locations where a child might slip or try to climb through should be checked for appropriate dimensions.

Protrusions such as pipes, wood ends, or long bolts that may catch a child’s clothing are prohibited. Distances between two vertical objects that are positioned near each other should be less than three and one-half inches to prevent entrapment of a child’s head. No opening should have a vertical angle of less than fifty-five degrees. To prevent entrapment of fingers, openings should not be larger than three-eighths inch or smaller than one inch. A Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) is specially trained to find and measure various play equipment hazards.

Any equipment opening between three and one-half inches and nine inches in diameter presents the potential for head entrapment. Similarly, openings between three-eighths inch and one inch can cause entrapment of the child’s fingers (1-2).
To locate a CPSI, check the National Park and Recreation Association (NPRA) registry at https://ipv
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
  1. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). 2008. Public playground safety handbook. Bethesda, MD: CPSC.
  2. Fiene, R. 2002. 13 indicators of quality child care: Research update. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.