INDIANAPOLIS - Younger students often list recess as their favorite part of the day, but returning to the classroom in one piece can be a struggle for some, especially when playground equipment’s not up to snuff.
As schools get their playgrounds ready, Call 6 investigators found a danger that's being overlooked at schools throughout our area.
A local dad went to work with a tape measure after his 7-year-old son was hurt, so we went measuring those playground hazards too, and it's a lesson for all parents.
Seven-year-old Daylan Frye ended up in the ER with his broken arm. Now he avoids the slide where it happened at his school near Greenwood, Ind.
"It just looked high. I mean, he's in first grade!” The boy’s father, Darrell Frye, said. “It just didn't look right at all."
Darrell then started measuring, because he searched online and found federal guidelines for school playgrounds.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the bottom chutes on slides like those on a playground should be 15 inches or fewer off the ground. But Darrell said the slide Daylan fell from was 5 inches too tall, so his son could barely reach the ground and he tumbled off.
"We went to three other schools, measured 14 slides in total and found three other ones, so a total of four out of the 14 were above the 15 inches," Darrell said.
He said that means other kids could get hurt, so the Call 6 investigators started measuring other school districts' playgrounds and found many districts exceeding those safety standards.
In schools throughout the Indianapolis area, many playgrounds we checked had slides that were too high: 18 inches, 20 inches, and even 22 and 23 inches.
“Now we have to play a little protective and make sure that he's on a safe playground before he's even allowed to play," Darrell said.
The superintendent of Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation, where Daylan was hurt, told us student safety is the school corporation’s top priority and playgrounds are routinely inspected.
But he also said the federal guidelines are not mandatory.
The National Program for Playground Safety wants to change that, saying 16 other states now require those guidelines for slides and other playground safety must be followed.
With all those other states now enforcing playground safety standards, we asked State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz if it was time here. Her office called back and said it's not a state issue: It's up to local school boards to correct any dangers and police themselves.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning parents about burns on playground equipment.
Just like the metal slides from years past, new equipment made of plastics and rubbers can get very hot just from sunlight.
Here's what parents should keep an eye out for:
- Uncoated metal equipment or equipment where the heat-reducing coating has rubbed off
- Slides, swings or anything a child may sit on
- Dark-colored plastics and rubbers
- Any asphalt or concrete surfaces near playgrounds