Caring for Our Childen (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, 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.