There are only two pieces of play equipment, which I am aware of, that are branded so dangerous they are actually outlawed. One is animal swings. You know, the rocking horses that move when you push your feet forward on the foot peddles. They were fun and although they didn't swing as high as a regular swing, you could have a kicking good time swinging back and forth as fast as your feet could push.
But when a piece of play equipment is outlawed, it's for good reason; the toy was heavy, and heavy moving objects are dangerous when a child, unknowingly, moves within its swinging path. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has documented impact injuries that caused death. No wonder it's outlawed. I still see a lot of those toys around.
On a recent "walk-through" with a park and recreation director at the completion of a newly installed structure, we saw firsthand what happens when a child runs in front of a moving object. The father was swinging his son on a swing with several bays. While the swing was moving back and forth, his daughter ran to him and just barely missed being hit by her swinging brother. The small lecture by Dad on being careful was automatic. He told the girl to watch what was going on around her. "Run around the swing next time," he instructed. She ran off to play elsewhere, and he continued to swing his son.
It wasn't but moments later, as the park director and I was still nearby, that we witnessed the child running back to her father on the same path as before. The swing collided directly into her with the impact knocking her to the ground. She sobbed as her father picked her up and hugged her. Fortunately, she was not injured.
The play area had 12 inches of engineered wood fiber to cushion the impact of the fall. And even though there was direct supervision, the incident still occurred. Her father was there to tell her to be careful, but when she neglected his request to watch what she was doing she did face a small consequence which provided a learning experience that will carry into her next encounter at the playground.
Playground designers can design play areas that minimize a child's natural tendency to unwittingly cross the path of moving swings. Playground installers can make certain the play area meets safety standards at the time of installation and parents can be there to supervise children when they play. An added measure of support is playground safety awareness education for children.
Suppose the child in this particular instance had been educated about playground safety by a playground safety program. They can, for instance, teach playground safety in a fun way that children can identify with and understand. These programs also help children dedicate to long-term memory playground safety awareness messages that prevent mishaps and possibly save lives.