School Injuries

Keeping Your Family Safe
Parents often worry about how to keep their child safe at school. For more than 30 years, the Utah Department of Health and local school districts have collected data on injuries that happen at school. From this data, we know that in Utah:
  • More than 5,000 school days are missed each year because of a school-related injury.
  • 9-1-1 is called twice a day because of a school-related injury.
  • A student is hospitalized every other day because of a school-related injury.
  • School injuries peak in 6th and 8th grades in Utah and then decline among high school students.

In Utah elementary schools, enough students are hurt each year to fill the average classroom 143 times!

    • Nearly 70% of elementary school injuries occur on the playground
    • Two-thirds of elementary school injuries occur during recess.
    • Falls are the leading cause of playground injuries. The most common activities during which these injuries occur are playing on bars and running.
    • The most common injuries are fractured or broken bones, cuts, bumps and bruises, sprains, and concussions.
    • Most of these injuries are preventable!

Most of the common safety hazards we see on playgrounds are the result of everyday use and wear-and-tear over time. Common hazards include:

    • Inadequate surfaces beneath playground equipment like asphalt, dirt, or even grass. These types of surfaces are dangerous because when a child falls, there is no “give” to them. Surfacing like pea gravel, rubber mulch, or wood chips “give” when a child falls and allows them to “slide” across the surface. 
      • It’s also important to remember that you need at least 9 inches of loose-fill materials like wood chips or rubber mulch. That allows for the material to compact and weather but still provide a safe surface.
    • Loose nuts and bolts
    • Cracked slides and worn swings 

What can schools and parents do to keep kids safe on playgrounds?

    • Parents and schools can play a huge role in keeping their kids safe on playgrounds just by supervising their child while they are using the equipment. Make sure your child knows how to use the equipment properly. For example, teach your child to not climb up the slides, jump out of the swings, or climb on top of playground equipment. And use playgrounds that are age-appropriate for your child.
    • Schools can do monthly inspections of their playground equipment and work with their districts to fix anything that is broken.
    • Set rules for playgrounds and recess, using sports equipment, or playing in the gyms.
    • Never play a sport or activity if you’re hurt. This is especially true for head injuries! When in doubt, sit them out… and for head injuries or concussions, it’s against the law for youth athletes to play unless they are medically cleared by a qualified health care provider.

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