Because the majority of playground injuries are due to falls from equipment, injury prevention efforts are primarily directed at reducing the likelihood of a child falling and reducing the likelihood of a severe injury if the child does fall. This is done by:
reducing the maximum fall height of equipment, primarily by reducing the overall height of anything a child might climb on or into;
reducing the likelihood of falling from equipment, through using barriers, discouraging climbing, and making upper surfaces inconvenient or uncomfortable for climbing or sitting on; and
installing a more flexible surface under and around play equipment, so that a child who falls is less likely to break a bone.
How effective these strategies are at preventing injuries is debated by experts, because when playgrounds are made from padded materials, children often take more risks.
Each year in the United States, emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Approximately 156,040 (75.8%) of the 1999 injuries occurred on equipment designed for public use; 46,930 (22.8%) occurred on equipment designed for home use; and 2,880 (1.4%) occurred on homemade playground equipment (primarily rope swings).